DANCING CHINESE NATIONALISM: AN EXAMINATION INTO THE HYBRIDITY AND POLITICS OF CHINESE CLASSICAL DANCE AND BALLET
AdvisorDodds, Sherril SD
Committee memberBond, Karen KB
Zhu, Yun YZ
Wilcox, Emily EW
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/8448
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AbstractThis dissertation explores the hybrid training and performance of Chinese classical dance (gudianwu) and ballet in China’s elite dance conservatory, Beijing Dance Academy (BDA), in post-socialist China (1980 - the present). Since the establishment of BDA in 1954, the hybridity of ballet and Chinese dance has been first institutionalized in training professional Chinese dancers and has had a profound influence on the development of dance in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). After the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in the 1980s, many gudianwu practitioners and dance critics in PRC criticized the failure of the hybrid training and performance in promoting a unique Chinese national character. In contrast, hybrid performance practices as a means to Sinicize the Western dance form of ballet have been celebrated. To create a unique Chinese national body aesthetic, gudianwu practitioners have attempted to revive Chinese traditional culture in dance through minimizing the influence of ballet, while Chinese ballet practitioners have created ballet works incorporating Chinese stories and Chinese arts, such as gudianwu, Chinese opera, local music, and traditional costumes. Instead of considering the promotion of unique Chinese characteristics in dance as a fixed and essentialized cultural practice, this dissertation argues that the hybrid dancing bodies of gudianwu and ballet have become important sites for negotiating Chinese nationalism, modernism, and individualism within the context of globalization. In keeping hybridity and Chineseness as the two central concepts in this study, I examine three research issues: first, how ballet has shaped gudianwu classes and gudianwu dancing bodies; second, how Chinese forms, such as martial arts, Chinese opera, and Chinese folk dance, have influenced ballet training and performance; and third, how the tension and interrelationship between these two hybrid dance practices complicates the concept of Chineseness. My methodology is informed by an interdisciplinary lens that includes postcolonial cultural studies (Bhabha 1994), Chinese cultural studies (Chow 1998), and anthropological Chinese dance studies (Wilcox 2011). I apply ethnography as my primary mode of collecting data while taking the meanings, functions, and historical and cultural contexts of dance into account. As the first dissertation that foregrounds the operation of hybridity in Chinese dance and ballet, this dissertation aims to enrich the theoretical framework of postcolonial and Chinese cultural studies and contribute to a mutual understanding between Chinese and Western cultures.
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