Han-Tang Zhongguo Gudianwu and the Problem of Chineseness in Contemporary Chinese Dance: Sixty Years of Creation and Controversy
Abstract

Abstract:

In 1979, after twenty-one years of political reeducation, Chinese classical dance professor Sun Ying (孙颖, 1929-2009) returned to the Beijing Dance Academy to instigate reform in the field of Zhongguo gudianwu, the official national dance form of the People's Republic of China. In creating the Han-Tang style of Zhongguo gudianwu, Sun challenged accepted notions of Chineseness within the field, especially the idea that Chinese indigenous theater, or xiqu, should serve as the primary foundation for a distinctively Chinese national body aesthetic. While Sun's alternative vision of Chineseness produced extensive controversy, this controversy is not antithetical to the historical aims and assumptions of Zhongguo gudianwu. Since the founding of the field in the early 1950s, practitioners of Zhongguo gudianwu have treated Chineseness as a subject for creative invention, interpretation, and debate; therefore, Sun's work is not a post-Mao phenomenon but rather an extension of the art and politics of the Mao period.