Francesca Cinalli and Paolo De Santis were hosted by Shangai International Dance Center (China) for two weeks in August 2019, taking part in two different events: Youth Dance Festival and Competition and China Dance Biennale. The Youth Dance Festival and Competition is a dance competition for dance groups and schools from Shanghai and neighboring areas, such as Taipei and Macao, for very young people aged 7 to 15 years. Francesca and Paolo They were judges of the Competition, taking part in over 70 shows, together with local and international guests; they then selected 24 youngsters for a workshop, experimenting with this particular target their artistic research on water, with a final presentation to the public under the title “Water-drops”. The presentation was a great success and was therefore presented exceptionally also during the Biennale. During the Dance Biennale, they held a new workshop, this time for professional dancers, which allowed them to get in touch with the artistic reality of Shanghai and China. They were also guests of the Biennale events and got to know operators and artists, making new relationships.
During the two days of Competition, we had an idea of the training model and of the strict discipline adopted by dance schools in China: from the pieces presented, a strong basic technique emerged for every dancer-dancer student to a robust gymnastic-athletic preparation and a very strong bond with the roots expressed above all in the pieces of traditional Chinese dance presented with great pride and a sense of belonging to the People’s Republic of China. In some pieces we have also observed the look projected towards the commercial West, with a strong television influence. The meeting that fascinated us most was the one with traditional Chinese dance: the codes of classical dance, martial art and virtuous gesture blend in it. While working at the Training Camp, we tried to mix their reference codes within a simple choreographic script that was rich in detail in relation to the music, sounds and voices of children. We had the pleasure of meeting many international programmers (Germany, France, England, Bulgaria, Portugal, China, Japan) and listening to their thoughts in special discussion panels on the state of contemporary dance in China and what is meant by contemporary. The artistic director Sabrina Chen Li seemed very open to the possibility of exchanges with European partners able to develop in the practice of the body the languages of contemporaneity also in China.