Dianling Zhang

Exploration, practice and transformation of folk dance

Since May this year, our team has been starting research on Yingge. Yingge is a folk dance popular in south China, specially in Guangdong and Fujian province. It is a kind of folk square dance which integrates dance, Nan quan routine and Chinese opera acting. It is usually performed during the Chinese traditional festivals. We start from the imitation of original movement, to the further analysis of each movement, and we reproduce the movement through our own understanding and personal physical experiences.

In the past few months, we have shared what we have with different people, and we have practiced together. The whole process has been amazing and rewarding for us. I realised that after such an analysis, making the movement more like a fitness exercise than a stylistic dance, it makes it easier for more people from different backgrounds to participate.

Like many artists and art organisations, our team is facing an existential crisis during the pandemic. Specifically, “Who needs dance? ” or “What else can dance do?” is one of the question we are facing and thinking about. We believe that the traditional folk movement is an equal and collective action, which can effectively connect different communities and involve different people. Taking Yingge as an example, through this period of research and practice, I deeply feel that its value is not only to provide a way for dancers’ body movement research and development, but more importantly, it has a positive, united and courageous spirit value. In the whole process of exploration, it is hoped that people from different industries will participate in this collective sport and they can bring it back to their personal experience and then feedback to the research, and I hope to use this visual diagram to make it easier to deliver and spread both offline and online. So that the process itself will form an interconnected and sustainable system.

This 8 year old boy has never danced before. After 6 days of practice, he made his first improvisation with the movements he learned.

Zhang Dianling is a dance artist based in Guangzhou. Through her embodied creative practice, Dianling examines familial relationships, and individual living experiences within the macro context of Chinese society. Her goal is to evoke imagination and resonance towards a communal sense of daily life.