Dance Drama: Chasing the Sun 追日
Dance Drama “Kwafu Chasing the Sun”
Fusion of Eastern & Western Cultures
I have been fond of Chinese mythology since I was a child. All over the world, it is men who create human beings, but in China it is Nuwa, a woman. The whole world is “Sun God surveying the sky”, and it is invincible. China’s Kuafu went to chase after Japan.
But on the other hand, if you open your eyes, you can find that “chasing the sun”, “catching the sun”, “seeking the sun” and “calling the sun” in the oldest myths of all ethnic groups in the birthplace of culture and art all over the world can be found everywhere. Yes, there are many similarities and minor differences. This proves that “chasing the sun” is a story matrix and prototype of universal significance in the development of human civilization. It shows that it is hoped to interpret the laws of the operation of the sun, moon and stars, explore the mysteries of the universe, and be fully curious about the unknown world outside the earth. Why does China’s Kuafu chase after Japan? Isn’t that just to explore the laws of the movement of the sun, moon and stars? As far as I know, the laws of celestial phenomena are often presented in cycles of thousands of years. The Chinese people’s research on this aspect can be traced back to thousands of years ago, and the records left by the observation and research institutes on celestial phenomena stretch for thousands of years without interruption. Therefore, for example, many of the latest discoveries in today’s literature are found in the data recorded in Chinese oracle bone inscriptions, and this phenomenon also happened in a certain year to confirm its law.
So East and West, ancient and modern meet here. Represented by Kuafu, these ancient Chinese astronomers and scientists (our ancestors who persisted in observing and recording phenomena) are in ideal and Spiritually tied together. So at the moment when I saw the Columbia spacecraft take off and explode in public, I suddenly realized that Kuafu is a typical example of all the brave people who explore the unknown world, and the embodiment of all scientists who devote themselves to science and truth. Kuafu’s journey is continued by today’s plans to develop space, and will continue in the future history of mankind. It was this opportunity that gave me a unique understanding of Kuafu, a figure in ancient Chinese mythology, and expressed and interpreted Kuafu as a representative of a scientist with a brand-new concept. When I received a creative grant from the McNight Foundation, I didn’t hesitate to create the dance drama Chasing the Sun.
In fact, the original “Shan Hai Jing” recorded “Kufu Chasing the Sun” in just a few lines. “A man wanted to catch up with the sun, but he died of thirst and burned to death. Before he died, he dropped the walking stick he carried with him and turned it into a piece of paper. Taolin, quenching the thirst for future generations.” It hardly constitutes a script. But when he was superimposed on the scene I witnessed today of the Columbia manned spaceship exploding in mid-air, the typical image of a condensed, fearless scientist came alive before my eyes. They are linked together, and a complete story of human cosmic exploration emerges in my mind: at the beginning of the dance drama, a bamboo pole is erected on the ground. Record the law of the movement of the sun and the moon. Later, he described how he bid farewell to his parents, wife and children in order to understand the laws of the solar survey. He suffered from hunger and cold all the way, perseverance and dialogue with the moon. The information is thrown into the world… This is the first time for Kuafu’s explanation. It seems that it is also the first to pay tribute to scientists in the form of dance drama. This should be the contribution of the dance drama “Chasing the Sun”.
But problems arose one after another. I have always emphasized that a good work must not only be profound in content, but also must be vividly expressed, especially in an art with a strong sense of form such as dance. Kuafu and the various Shinjuku he encountered when he was exploring the universe, what are they like and what kind of body language do they have? For example, the moon, Chinese people are accustomed to mentioning the moon in their minds, and the person who immediately jumps out is “Chang’e”, but this one who stole the elixir Feitian and can never return to the world again, staying alone in the Guanghan Palace, “Chang’e”, and The Luna in my mind who opened his heart and gently accepted the “Kuafu-Human” is not the same thing at all. I abandoned the traditional habitual thinking, and completely followed my inner feeling: Luna chose Mifa, a ballerina, to play the role. The image of the moon god in the center of the play.
However, Kuafu’s action theme is based on Shandong Guzi Yangko, with a strong local flavor from the earth, but it is quite heroic. So when he broke into the moon and suddenly met Luna, there was a wonderful spark, and there was a pas de deux that had never been seen in any Western ballet or Chinese dance drama, as though each spoke a dialect unfamiliar to the other , but trying to communicate and accept. The characters in this pas de deux are distinct, novel and full of drama, which is refreshing and has no sense of deja vu at all.
As soon as the idea is opened, everything is clear, and the same is true for the other constellations of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. They belong to the same big family as the earth, like brothers and sisters, have something in common, and have their own personalities – their own. Language Features. The moment they met, they presented a wonderful scene that they had never met before and seemed to be familiar with each other: Kuafu’s folk and Zhongxing’s modern dance met, not only not incompatible, but with distinct personalities. In short, in this one hour and fifteen minute dance drama, I broke the box and swayed freely, including Chinese classical dance, folk dance, folk dance, modern dance, ballet, and even Shaolin Kungfu, etc. It’s just that they no longer exist in the original meaning, but start from the shaping of characters, and all kinds of languages are used by me. The unity is fused in the whole of the newborn, Chasing the Sun.
The question is, is this still Chinese dance? Yes, of course. “Kwafu Chasing the Sun” comes from the depths of Chinese culture. It is the essence of Chinese culture and our unique wealth. As for dance vocabulary, it serves to shape characters. I prefer the Chinese word “traditional” to the word traditional. Because the word “biography” clearly shows that this is a dynamic concept. It’s not an antique that’s been put there immutably. An action, when you place it in a certain context, is loaded with pending cultural information. But if you take it apart, it’s just one element of body language. It can change its function by changing a method and recombining it. Human beings have long understood that smelting alloys creates extremely sharp swords. Puccini could turn the Chinese folk song “Jasmine” into a famous piece in his Western opera “Turandot”. Why can’t our Chinese dance absorb all the essence of Western art and learn from others’ strengths? So on the basis of in-depth study of traditional Chinese dance, my attitude towards Western dance culture is to embrace it. For me, all vocabulary as long as it is in line with the character’s personality, specific environment, atmosphere and emotion, are welcome. Various cultures have their strengths and can complement each other. If you can connect them, then you can really have both sides, integrate and communicate, and form a grand view.
Interestingly, this time I used the theater of “The Legend of the White Snake” again. Summarizing the experience of previous failures, without a canopy, we took advantage of the situation and designed an inverted semicircular plastic film device, which was then illuminated from the back. The blue light is like a beautiful moon, and the strong orange light is the sun, and all the other things are included. It is harmonious and novel with the arched brick wall that haunted me in “The Legend of the White Snake”, and it fits the poetic dance language very beautifully. In particular, Kuafu’s last “hair-smearing” cut through a big hole in the plastic film and jumped into the sun. The amazing effect was impossible in the original three-wall theater. Failure is the mother of success, and the shortness of “The Legend of the White Snake” makes “Chasing the Sun” long. Learning to adapt to a variety of different theaters, actively using it, which in turn prompted me to create new inspirations, complement each other.
This time it’s exactly the way American professional gigs work. It is also a brand new experience for me to form a production crew of “Chasing the Sun” through social recruitment for rehearsal and performance. It also allowed me to meet many professional dancers. “Legend of the White Snake”, “Chasing the Sun”… out of the Chinese circle; out of the dance world, out of the so-called traditional Chinese dance… It made me realize that although there are many differences between Chinese and Western cultures, human nature is the same. We are all human beings with many common concerns, and in fact, the commonalities far outweigh the differences. Grasping these eternal mothers, which are common to mankind, made me greatly enlightened: I found the best melting point for the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.
In order to realize the desire to share the broad and profound Chinese art with the world, I will continue to boldly meet new challenges again and again, turn over new pages in my creative history, and broaden my creative path. I invited Mr. Xu Hangdong to dinner yesterday (a young dancer from New York who played Kuafu). Coincidentally, the small note that I got after the meal actually said, “When you have grasped the right direction, you will not turn back and go in this direction without regrets.” I think this is the spirit of Kuafu.
这次完全按照美国专业演出运作的方式。通过社会招聘组成《追日》演出剧组进行排练演出的，这对我也是一个全新的经验。也让我结识了很多专业舞蹈家。 《白蛇传》、《追日》……走出华人的圈子；走出舞界，走出所谓传统中国舞的框框 ……它让我认识到，虽然中西文化有许多差异，但人性是相通的。我们都是人类，有许多共同关心的问题，实际上，共性远远大于差异。把握这些人类共同的永恒的母体，使我大大开悟：找到了东西方文化交融的最佳熔点。