This article examines the creative process through which particular dance techniques and aesthetic styles originally derived from folk forms are transformed and integrated into the conservatory dance tradition in the People's Republic of China. I propose the term "dynamic inheritance" to describe this officially prescribed sequence of activities, which was first formalized during the period of early socialist culture (1937–1965) and continues to be the dominant creative method followed by state-sponsored Chinese dance artists today. The most common phrase used to describe this process is "to inherit and develop" (jicheng yu fazhan). It suggests that individual artists act as agents or stewards in the handing down of tradition, by following a process whose success is measured not by how strictly existing forms are preserved, but, rather, by how well they are made to speak to and be appreciated by contemporary audiences. In this process, the "representative work" (daibiaozuo) becomes the crucial medium through which artists carry out this process of dynamic inheritance and authorship of tradition.