On August 13th, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) collaborates with ENCOUNTER to invite the Japanese dance artist Yasuo for a choreographic dialogue regarding the origins of dance with three Chinese dancers from different stylistic and personal backgrounds.
Dance has a natural, intrinsically unbreakable connection to labor. As humans live and work within nature, the movements of their bodies form a rhythm, a cadence—the very beginning of dance choreography. The bodies that grew out of this East Asian land is closely interconnected with the traditional lifestyle of an agricultural civilization and cannot be removed from its deep relationship to the land.
“Butoh” has evolved from the juxtaposition and interrelationship between eastern and western cultures, and by transcending the pride and limitations of western contemporary dance and Japanese traditional dance. It aims to reclaim the body’s independence and life force, and establish connections with the complete worlds of both the spiritual and the human. Likewise, many of China’s dances and performances with the human body as well as that of other eastern civilizations that have undergone the influence of western modern dance seek to attain a kind of connection to the earth, a certain grounded quality. No matter if it is a traditional dancer who has trained ceaselessly to master specific techniques, or a dancer with a background of traditional training who has embarked individually on an exploration of contemporary thought and dance practices, or a dancer who has maintained that original, down-to-earth roughness in their dancing, they all answer to the call of the land.
A body that has grown out of the quality of the earth possesses a certain indescribable brilliance and gravity, and presents itself through different guises in the process of its evolution and growth. East Asian dancers bring this joint performance to us, where they will express the traditional form of their sense of the body through the body language of contemporary dance. They hope that through showcasing the variety and similarities in their numerous works they can lead the audience to a realization of the original, natural relationship between the body and the earth.
RMB 60 /UCCA Member
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Yasuo was born in Hokkaido in 1971. He graduated from the Department of Nuclear Engineering in the Graduate School of Engineering at Kyoto University. As a Japanese butoh dancer, Yasuo formed a deep interest in Noh in his high school years, and studied it throughout his seven years of enrollment at university. He started his professional dance career in 1996. In 2014, he independently presented the work The Decay of the Angel, after which he coined the term “butoh” for his style of dance.
After seven years of training in traditional Japanese Noh, he incorporated the artistry and colors of Noh into his performances with respect of tradition, and with a contemporary thought process and method embarked on over 20 years of an exploration of the body, maintaining throughout a natural and rough quality to his dancing. “Hip butoh” is a new form of performance that Yasuo started in 2014. Consistent with its textual meaning, “hip butoh” features wearing the regular butoh mask on the hips, using the hips and the behind as the face, the back as the front, the feet as the hands, the hands as the feet. In this way, “hip butoh” can reverse everything, and bring people a sense of a reversal of reality and imagination. This symbolizes a call to life of ambivalent emotions and inner conflicts, and the use of “extra-ordinary expressions” to create performances under all circumstances.
With immense respect for the traditional arts, he addresses the division between the aspects of Noh music, dance, and choreography. Through exploring the universality and possibilities of individuality, he exposes the uncertainties and unreliability of reality, views on life and death, as well as thought in the midst of geographic and earthly relations.
Zhang Xin is an outstanding young performer at the National Opera House in China, taking on roles including Qing Yi (meaning black cloth, representing a female role in Chinese operas), Hua Shan (colored shirt, similarly representing a female character), and Dao Ma Dan (a female character well-versed in shadowboxing and swordplay). A graduate of the Academy of Chinese Traditional Opera, Zhang Xin has studied under teachers including Xie Ruiqing, Su Zhi, Zhang Yijuan, Shi Yihong, and Chen Chao. Zhang Xin had a leading role in CCTV’s first digital film on traditional Chinese opera, Xin An Yi, and received a highly prestigious award from the Ministry of Culture in the traditional opera section of a competition promoting emerging performers nationwide. Zhang Xin participated in the National Beijing Opera Repertoire Heritage Performance in 2016 and was a part of the opening act Tie Guan Tu. Ling Ke took the lead role in one act of Bie Mu Luan Jian, Cai Zhengren took the lead in one act of Zhong Gu Fen Gong, and Zhang Xin took the lead in an act of Zhen E Ci Hu. In 2006, Zhang Xin participated in a Kunqu opera performance of Romeo and Juliet, playing the part of Juliet, and accepted an invitation to perform at the Edinburgh International Art Festival in the United Kingdom. In the same year, she played the role of Du Li Niang in a stage performance called There was Once a Mountain, a play using classical Chinese poetry as the theme that was the result of investments from China, France, Italy, and Japan. She has also played parts in performances by the National Theatre Company of China, including Charles III and The Story of Overlord, and has toured and performed in 16 countries.
Jiang Wei graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy and majored in teaching Chinese classical dance. In 2008, he participated in the collective dance performance Lan Ling Wang Ru Zhen Yue (meaning “Song of the Lan Ling King Entering the Army”), which received a Gold Award; in 2010 he was the runner-up for the Beijing Taichi competition, and was the winner of the Taichi swordplay competition. In 2011 he starred in a medium-sized dance drama performance called Li Niang, and in 2013 he performed in The Name of the Rose at the little playhouse of the National Theatre in China. He performed in the Singaporean production, Peony Pavilion, and in the same year performed in the dance drama Fei Tang Shou Song and the dance poetry piece Han Song. In 2014, he received an invitation to perform as part of the dance drama Hua E (meaning “flower”) with the Ningxia Song and Dance Theatre, and in the same year participated in the contemporary dance drama called Lan Hua (meaning “lotus”) and Ren Zhi Chu (meaning “the beginning of men”). In 2015, he performed in another modern dance drama called Hua Pi (meaning “painted skin”), as well as a folk dance drama named Feng Zheng (meaning “kite”) as the male lead. In 2016, he performed in the dance drama called Da Yu.
Ping is an independent artist currently working and residing in Beijing. Li A Ping graduated from the Communication University of China with a degree in recording engineering. She has worked at CCTV as a recorder and has contributed to the production of many programs. Due to personal interest, she has been engaged in regularly studying dance, and thus created another dimension to her personal life and work. Presently, while working as a professional recorder, she is also a performer and has participated in various performances. Since 2013, as an event planner and organizer, she founded ENCOUNTER, an organization for artistic planning in collaboration with Yin Fang, and to this day continues to organize performances and a body workshop. In 2014, she hosted a solo photography exhibition. Since 2015, she has become a credentialed yoga instructor. She believes that the body is a carrier, but it is not only a carrier, and that by starting with exploring and understanding the body, one can maintain the ability to reflect upon oneself and society, and pay attention to the relationship between the individual and the collective.
As the founder of SONGZHAOART Song Dynasty Design Studio and CANON series music brand, Songzhao Aiys is engaged in independent multiple art planning, professional cello performance, experimental music, impromptu music, art visual design, cooperation artistic exploration, etc. for a long time. He is also the advocator and art director of art promotion projects of “silent club” and known as the most creative diverse music artist in China. Songzhao is active in all kinds of music, drama, ballet, exhibition, film and television fields and the latest Chinese contemporary art field in such identities as cello soloist, chamber music performer and pioneer cello artist. In music production and performance, Songzhao with his collaborators plans, creates and performs more than 100 music works with both box office and artistic taste as the co-founder of “DNA trio,” “Mongolian” pioneer orchestra, “north” contemporary Mongolian music laboratory, “pirate and mage” musician team, KUBI & AIYS music journey, “attic• Beijing” crossover music laboratory, and “travel diary” music collection. Besides the dense art activities, he is also the specially invited cello soloist in “international chief philharmonic orchestra”, the visiting professor of musical department of Beijing Dance Academy, experimental school of Central Conservatory of Music and other art schools to teach classical chamber music, modern impromptu originality and other courses. In 2015, he was invited to hold the post of artistic director of Beijing Jinmushui International Culture Development Co., Ltd.
From 1998 to 2013, Song was invited to Hong Kong Arts Festival, Melbourne Festival, the ASIA Society, United States COIL Festival, Israel International Arts Festival, German DAAD Art Music Foundation, German Siemens Music Foundation, Audi Hero Music Festival, Beijing International Music Festival, CCOM Music Festival, Hennessy Music Festival and other large international music festivals and music master classes. Besides musical performances, Song is also a senior performance planner and producer. He has successfully planned and participated in over 100 concerts and art events. His unique musical concept and the quality to adhere to pure art have triggered the thinking and attention of many artists and art lovers.
In the spring and summer of 2013, Yin Fang and Li A Ping co-founded ENCOUNTER, with the goal of creating a new and different space for exploration and dialogue. Through careful observation of one’s real surroundings and using the occurrences that have already taken place in one’s reality, and channeling those occurrences into one’s artistic creations and performances, as well as exploring the dialogue between the artist, objective circumstances, and designated communities is an important part of their goal with ENCOUNTER. Every new environment and every collaboration that transcends borders is a new adventure and a new instance of collision between individuals and bodies. ENCOUNTER is a reflection upon and reaction against the virtualization of social interactions and social environment in today’s highly technologized and digitalized world. ENCOUNTER doesn’t refer merely to simple, coincidental moments, but encompasses a kind of inevitability, and is in actuality a contemplation upon the relationship between “fate” and “human subjectivity.”
Chiao Kon Kee
18:30-18:50 Ticket pick-up at the reception desk (for UCCA members who RSVPed)
18:50-19:20 Exclusive UCCA members-only guided tour
19:00-19:30 Ticket distribution at the reception desk (for UCCA members who didn’t RSVP and non-members)
- Chinese / Japanese