Ancient Poem Made Modern in New Dance Film
Rachel Levitt gets the inside scoop on Jasmine Huang’s new dance film for Our Stories, the second flash show from Dance : Corps.
Jasmine Huang fuses Chinese dance with westernized contemporary in her new short film, Quiet Night Thoughts, which premieres at Our Stories – Flash Show this October.
“I’m really excited to be sharing Chinese dance with the west, people here in Canada and the US and anywhere that people see this. I think that it’s kinda been viewed for a long time as ribbon dancing and fan dancing and lion dancing,..there’s so much more to it, and I’m sure that’s the same for any type of cultural dance.
This is just the first of many projects that I’ll be working on that incorporate Chinese dance with contemporary or other types of westernized dance, or maybe down the line I’ll be doing something more pure Chinese dance – you’ll just have to stay tuned for that!”
We may have to keep checking her Instagram for the next work from this talented young woman, but for now we got the inside scoop on Quiet Night Thoughts.
What is the piece about?
“It is reaching the time of year which, in Chinese culture, is called mid-Autumn festival, so I wanted to create a piece that would be celebrating that. And something that’s celebrated during that time is the moon, and there is a very famous poem called Chuáng Qián Míng Yuè Guāng which means the moonlight in front of your bed.
I wanted to explore bringing the meaning of that poem to life through Chinese dance fused with contemporary dance. There have been several dances made based on the poem, but I wanted to take a modern twist to it because it is an ancient poem from over 2000 years ago. But it’s still practiced in schools and taught in schools because the meaning behind the poem is still so relevant to today.
I don’t want to give away what it’s about so you’re just going to have to watch and see…”
What was the creative process like?
“There was quite a bit of research I had to do into actually learning more about the poem and the meaning, which included me basically talking to my parents. My parents have actually been a wealth of knowledge for me in terms of learning more about my culture.
My parents translated the poem for me and explained the meaning. It’s pretty clear the meaning once you understand what it is, so based on that I’ve just been using the words to drive the story behind all of the movement in the piece.
Before I start actually creating…before I can even start to move I need to fully understand what it is I’m moving about. I’m very much a story driven person.
So there was a lot of time literally just me journaling, writing down ideas about how I relate to the premise of this poem, and once that was established then it would start with improv, doing research, looking at other Chinese dances using the same quality of movement that I‘m looking for and being inspired by that.”
What was the behind-the-scenes like?
“It’s really not glamorous. I wish it was! It’s mainly my mom helping me, she’s a superstar. It’s basically just her and I doing a shot several times. It takes a few hours but…when you work with people who just want to make your vision come true, thankfully my mom is one of those people, it’s really fun.”
Words of advice for aspiring creators…
Though during covid it’s been a difficult time for sure, it’s really allowed me to be creative. Which is not something I wanted to do a lot, I really wanted to perform before covid. So if you’re someone at home like me feeling like you just wanted to dance and now there’s no gigs going around, now’s a great time to create. I thought for a long time that you had to be super-duper established and had to have years and years under your belt before you could start creating, and I realize now that that’s so is not true. I hope that other people get inspired to use what you have, because you have something. Everyone has something.
Keep up with Dance : Corps' website and Instagram for access to Our Stories – Flash Show, online 12am Oct 3rd to 12am Oct 5th via a YouTube playlist. To get the link straight to your inbox, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Who are your dance idols?
Juliano Nuñes for ballet and contemporary. He incorporates ballet with contemporary. Absolute art, everything he puts out.
Parris Goebel for anything commercial. She’s just visionary and insanely talentd and I just can’t stop watching her stuff.
Galen Hooks for just being a great person and obviously being an extraordinary choreographer. And she kind of does a lot. She does contemporary, she does more abstract, she does commercial. Throughout COVID she’s just been such a great person, providing so many opportunities for people.
Favourite dance film?
Dirty Dancing. Which really isn’t even a dance film because that’s not even the main point of the movie, but I think that’s why I liked it – because I wasn’t criticizing the dance I was just enjoying the movie.
Worst dance injury?
I was practicing my aerial at a gymnastics gym...and I was practicing it so that I was stepping off my foot onto a mat. But when I went to do it, instead of stepping on the mat to jump off of it, I stepped on the corner of the mat and rolled my ankle.
I still had to do shows after that which was really tough because it hindered the healing process, but wasn’t fully healed until eight months later, nine months later, something like that. With extensive therapy.