Michigan uni builds Chinese dance collection
Added On April 14, 2017
Despite being on the otherside of the world, the University of Michigan in the midwest U.S. city of Ann Arbor, is showing off its vast collection of resources relating to Chinese dance
Let's take a look
The show is held at the University of Michigan in its Hatcher Graduate Library.
This rich collection owes much to the enthusiastic work of a researcher at the university, and its Chinese librarian who is a performing arts fan.
Called "Chinese Dance: National Movements in a Revolutionary Age, 1945-1965" it presents China's dance culture and history through that important chapter of China's development.
The exhibits mark an intensive and joint effort over more than three years by Emily Wilcox and Fu Liangyu.
Wilcox is an assistant professor of the university, and also one of the researchers in the field of Chinese dance studies based in the United States.
Over the past decade, she has traveled to China 11 times, visiting Chinese artists' homes, scanning 1,500 rare photos, and recording 300-hours of interviews with Chinese dancers and choreographers.
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH) EMILY WILCOX, University of Michigan
"So this exhibition introduces Chinese dance using an original library collection. So the exhibit is based on three different sections of material. One section is the rare programs dance teaching handbooks and other types of print format that Fu Liang yu introduce already. In addition to that we also have a special digital collection of dancers' photographs, which I collected in China as a research ethnographer meeting with China's first generation of professional dancers. So I went to their homes and scanned their photographs from their personal collections. So many of the photographs in the exhibit come from those original scanned photographs from the dancers. So our exhibit has 26 boards of content and it has three display cases and two digital screens that show moving images and photographs."
As a new librarian for China studies, Fu was keen to add a distinction to the collections at the Asia Library.
A performing arts fan, and someone fascinated by preserving ephemeral materials, Fu was thrilled to learn that Chinese dance is an emerging area for studies.
She was particularly surprised by the amount of "dance diplomacy" that took place in the 1950s and 60s -- often regarded as a seclusive time in China's history.
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH) FU LIANGYU, University of Michigan
"These two boards showcase how China used dance to reach out to the world in 1950s and 60s and also how the world understand China by the form of dance during the same time. So from the 1950s and 60s there were more than 50 times that Chinese dance troupe going out to the world to visit. So we have a map here to showcase the different locations. And also this is another map to showcase the foreign dance troupe where they came from. They all came to China to visit."
The pair plan to continue collecting materials, whether through personal donations or proactive acquisition --saying they won't stop until they have created a world-class Chinese dance collection.