Dance: Enter the Dragon

’Kung Fu Dance: Gateway’ combines martial arts with modern dance

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
February 25, 2015 11:24
3 minute read.
Kung Fu Dance

’Kung Fu Dance: Gateway’ combines martial arts with modern dance. (photo credit: PR)

 
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here are endless expressions regarding doors; that one closing opens a window or that you never know what’s lurking behind one. Opening and closing doors is as ordinary an action as one can get, and yet choreographer Liu Lu finds it endlessly moving. Tomorrow night, the Contemporary Dragon Dance Company will begin a week-long tour in Israel with Liu’s Kung Fu Dance: Gateway . The troupe, consisting of 11 trained martial artists, will make perform in Haifa, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Herzilya and Tel Aviv.

Performances at the Suzanne Dellal Center will be part of the annual Spring Chinese Dance festival.

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Gateway is the creation of choreographer Liu Lu, founder of the nine-year old company. The work was inspired by the mystery of closed doors. Early in the creative process, Liu came across the writings of American author Christopher Morley. His words perfectly captured the sentiment that Liu was broaching. Liu chose the following excerpt to shed light on the thoughts behind Gateway .

“The opening and closing of doors are the most significant actions of man’s life. What a mystery lies in doors! Which one of us has not sat in some anteroom and watched the inscrutable panels of a door that was full of meaning?” With Gateway , Liu hopes to present a new perspective on Chinese culture.

“ Gateway is not like usual Chinese works,” she explains.

“The need for luxurious and glorious stage design and costumes doesn’t exist in this work. Instead, I try to present an excellent performance composed with our active imagination, innovative spirit, simple and sincere expression and our national identity. With all the cultural publicity on China either in the press or through the Internet, I hope to show a new side in exploring the inner world of the contemporary Chinese mentality and Chinese stage artistry.”

Liu wasn’t always interested in martial arts. She admits that she wasn’t even all that interested in Chinese culture.



“Martial arts were offered as an elective when I was a student at the dance academy, but I didn’t have any interest in it. I thought it was a sport that had nothing to do with dance. Plus when I was younger, I focused only on art and culture from the Western world,” she says.

Upon finishing her classical training at the Beijing Dance Academy, Liu began her career as a dancer/choreographer. Five years later, in 1996, she shifted from dance to television, where she reported on cultural affairs. In 2006, she came in contact with a talented group of martial artists from a number of Beijing’s top martial arts clans. Together with legendary martial artist Jackie Chan, Liu founded the Contemporary Dragon Kung Fu Dance Company.

While the 11 company members were well versed in Chinese fighting arts, they had a lot of catching up to do on the dance front. Thus Liu drew on her classical training, spending a full year teaching the martial artists how to broaden their physical intelligence to include dance choreography.

“These two forms share the language of the body, that people can express their deepest ideas through shared physical expressions regardless of race, color, nationality and political views. Chinese classical dance is studied early in the training of many martial arts practices. As the saying goes, ‘Martial arts and dance cannot be separated.’ The creation of this work lets me feel the liberation of the body that is inherent in both forms,” she says.

On stage, audiences will behold a company that is unified in movement and spirit. These artists live and breathe their work, embodying a holistic approach to performance.

“I truly respect the performers,” she says. “These boys didn’t give up performances, even under difficult and harsh conditions in life. Instead, they have developed a spirit of perseverance.”

Contemporary Dragon Kung Fu Dance Company will present Kung Fu Dance: Gateway on February 28 at the Haifa Auditorium; March 1 at the Jerusalem Theater; March 2 at the Ashdod Performing Arts Center; March 3 at the Herzilya Performing Arts Center; and March 4, 5, 6 and 7 at the Suzanne Dellal Center. For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il

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