On Wednesday a group of aspiring dancers arrived at China Exchange for the first of our Big Dance workshops led by Goldsmith’s Confucius Institute. Here, China Exchange’s own Salema Khanum describes the experience:
I wasn’t sure what to expect. We’re a mixed group, diverse in age and background – what we have in common is that we’ll be learning a contemporary routine developed by widely celebrated choreographer Akram Khan. It’s been infused with Chinese movement by our workshop leaders, Xiaowen and Aonan, both contemporary dancers in the Goldsmith’s Confucius Institute. The idea is that we’ll dance together for four weeks and then perform at the same time as all the other groups across the UK and overseas who have also taken the Big Dance Pledge.
The class focused on appreciating the fluidity of movement that we can take from principles of qiqong. Xiaowen explained that qi, our energy presence, can be moved and directed once we know how to do so. As a group dancing together, we’ll be learning how to move our qi with our bodies to create a fluid and powerful movement of energy.
Xiaowen also explained that in Chinese classical dance, female movements focus on subtlety and fluidity, and that typically the movements are kept very small. Male movement are stronger, bolder and more rigid. The aim is to create balance.
After last night’s workshop, I was more mentally tired than I expected. The movements were gentle, yet required us all to concentrate on how we were moving our qi. I’m looking forward to practising the steps now and understanding the choreography of the whole routine adapted specially for China Exchange.
To find out more about the Big Dance Pledge at China Exchange, click here.