Program Specifics: Liuzhou, China 2010
Please see Beijing, China 2010
Narrative: Liuzhou, China 2010
After completing the Beijing leg of the tour, Carmen traveled to Liuzhou, China in the south near Hong Kong. The program there was sponsored by the Guangdong State Department and the Henry Luce Foundation with administrative support by Guangdong Modern Dance Company and the Liuzhou Nationalities High School. Liuzhou is an amazing and beautiful city located on the Liu Jiang River. The high school was interesting because of its ethnic diversity. It is a mixed income mid-level high school with some students that commute and some that live on the school grounds. The schedule for Chinese students in a typical high school is grueling with classes beginning at 8 am and extending well into the evening. It is not abnormal for students to be leaving classes as late as 9 pm.
Despite their very full schedule, the participants and teachers were energetic and fully committed to the workshop. The program and accommodations were smooth and wonderful. The students had different interests and concerns then the children from Beijing. They were older and working to perform well in school with the hopes of attending a competitive university program. Many of them had previous exposure to dance through their school and social activities as well as the traditions of Southern Chinese music and dance. Their pride in the landscape and local culture was inescapable and became the theme for the piece. Taking inspiration from the beauty of the surrounding mountains, river and parks, the students developed phrases about Nature, the elements and Chinese symbols found in local arts and crafts. Karmen Li from Guangdong Modern Dance was an assistant administratively and within the classroom as an interpreter. Her enthusiasm and focus was invaluable. She also organized a local modern dancer and beginning teacher Fung-Pu Xing to accompany her as an assistant in the studio and as a performer for the final project. It was lovely to have him as part of the program and he expressed interest in learning to teach the program in the future.
The State Department staff did a wonderful job of organization and support. They arrived the evening before the final performance that took place in the school badminton arena. Additionally, they led a presentation about soft diplomacy and educational outreach for the Liuzhou teachers. The workshop was a great success and had full attendance. All were thrilled by the performance of the students that included the school’s vocal group that sung two traditional southern Chinese songs in their local dialect. They wore the traditional costumes of Liuzhou and created a stunning image and glorious sound. VIP attendees included the mayor of Liuzhou, the school’s principle and several other city officials as well as Ms. White and Ms. Wong. The entire school of students, parents and teachers made up the audience with a group of about six hundred people. Although it all transpired without a formal theater or special lighting, it was a wonderful event and resulted in loud applause and school support. The participants received certificates of completion in front of their school and gave Carmen, Karmen and Fung Pu a special farewell gift of photos and individualized messages in English. Goodbyes were difficult with many tears, hugs and hopes for another Dancing to Connect project in the future. A final dinner with the mayor to celebrate the program’s success was a lovely close to a wonderful stay in beautiful Liuzhou. Similar to the Beijing survey results, Liuzhou students also showed a marked improvement in body image, a unanimous desire to work with American’s in the future and majority desire to participate in Dancing to Connect again.