Rock stars in the making…

August 13, 2008

Hello from Beijing! I’m here attending the Booking Dance Festival Beijing 2008. Though the festival officially starts tomorrow, tonight was the first performance by the to U.S. companies. Get this: on an outdoor Olympic venue-Coca Cola sponsored-glass stage! To an audience that hasn’t had the chance to see much, if any, modern dance. It was incredible. The glowing red Coca-Cola lights and screens on the normally vacant courtyard of Beijing’s The Place gave a vibrant, underground, club like feel to the show. Kim Robards Dance from Colorado and Odyssey Dance Theatre from Salt Lake City lit the stage on fire. They had a little help from a German disco/pop band that opened the evening and got the crowds going. Kim Robards Dance (which has 11 dancers including Kim, who at 54 still dances with the company) performed an enthusiastic somewhat lyrical number, Kym Gym Megalomania, first. They hopped from one level of the glass stage to the next as if this was the typical performance venue. Then Odyssey Dance Theatre, a hip-hop/jazz/funk company, performed Trey Barber’s The Factory that had the crowds cheering and screaming. The young hip company of seven even pulled a few members of the crowd up to dance along. It raised the American dancers to the status of rock stars in the Chinese public’s eye.

Beijing is bustling with activity because of the Olympics of course. It’s bringing together cultures and competitors from all over the world. When the dance festival officially opens tomorrow, five companies will perform on the same stage. Along with the two U.S. companies, three of the top Chinese dance companies will come together for the first time: Beijing Modern Dance Company, The National Ballet of China, and Tao Studio. (Watch for full coverage of the festival, and the dance scene in China in Dance Magazine in 2009.)