In their Spring Equinox programme, the LDTX dancers present an array of creative and innovative new choreographies. A huge crowd squeezes into the LDTX studio in Southeast Beijing, to watch eight of the fourteen works created by the LDTX dancers. The company founder, Willy Tsao, welcomes everyone warmly (in both English and Chinese), proudly overlooking his dancers’ brave new works.

The overwhelming feeling I got while watching these pieces was sparked by the litheness of the dancing bodies before me, and the emotional maturity of every dancer who took to the stage. Tsao’s dancers are phenomenal and interesting movers. While this means there is never a boring moment, there were of course some stand-out pieces of the evening.

ONE © Yan Dawei
ONE
© Yan Dawei
The show opened with Gong Xing-xing’s A Space, in which three dancers in stripy pyjamas play around a trampoline. At first, the two men (Adiya and Bai Hua) seem completely oblivious to one another despite dancing in unison, playing on the bar of the upside-down frame. They seem preoccupied by something off to their left, and keep throwing nervous glances over their shoulders. A poetic moment reveals a third dancer (Gong) beneath the trampoline, her lithe legs picked out by an intense orange beam of sunny light. The three frolic playfully around, under, and upon the trampoline - peering over the edge, hands pushing on one another’s heads, competing for a better view - until Gong departs, leaving her pyjamas crumpled on the floor. These Adiya and Bai squirrel away eagerly and hang from the edge of the trampoline, as if creating a den. A final, sad trio ensues with the men below echoing Gong’s movements atop the trampoline, a circle of hazy light filtering through its surface from above as they share their pain. 

Themes of pain and sadness resurfaced in Li Ke-Hua’s Waiting. Three women (Li, Tang Ting-ting and Fan Lu) are anchored to a single desk. Li’s walks her hands back and forth along the tabletop in her impatience. Sparks fly as Tang spars sexily across the table with Ma Yue, but ultimately he leaves her alone. The three sit together, as if communing their sorrows yet absent-mindedly unaware of one another. They pile up their heads in the centre of the table. Li puts her hands to her face yet they become other women’s hands. She seems haunted by ideas and ghosts of the other women in his life. Hands interlinked over their heads and foreheads to the desk, they convey a deep loneliness in the company of these other women. 

The courage that Li, Tang and Fan had lost bestowed itself upon Qian Kun in Zhaxiwangjia’s One. This piece opens with one man (Zhaxiwangjia) slowly adorning another (Qian) with a pile of identical pale blue dress shirts – each one is wrapped around his neck or draped over his head. Cue five other dancers in need of a shirt. Once identically dressed they move together – all except one. Qian is ostracised, not by the behaviour of the group, but through his own choice. The group commands the space. The role of outsider shifts – one lone body is absorbed and another spat out – and whoever sees the group from without bursts into laughter. The six soon collapse, catatonic in their hysterics. In walks the director to haul them up. There’s a wonderful feeling of brotherhood. A string of grasped elbows links them like the joists between steam engine wheels, while one stands a head above the rest. One flies for them all. 

BOUNDARY © Yan Dawei
BOUNDARY
© Yan Dawei
One hand stretched out in front of him, Qian searches the air for a connection, while others’ hands find, grasp and release each other all around him. As he stumbles towards Zhaxiwangjia, seated downstage, it suddenly feels Truman Show-esque so I’m not surprised by the vigorous fight that ensues. I am surprised, however, when Qian empties the colourful contents of the clothing bucket over his head, and wears the bucket itself!

Among the interesting solo pieces – Lesiurely, Roam by Ma Yue, ? by Gao Yang, Boundary by Liu Sen-Lin and Lycoris Radiata Fan Lu – I was particularly touched by the combination of sadness and playful experiment in Qian Kun’s Light Up The Darkness. Seemingly drawing inspiration form Charlie Chaplin, Qian plays with black paint on a white glove, getting it all over himself in the process, ending the piece by seeking (and receiving) a warm embrace from an audience member.

All of the pieces showcased at the LDTX studio this weekend were exciting, emotionally mature and beautifully danced. I took 21 twenty-something science students to watch this, their first live contemporary dance performance. Their summary? They "didn't understand" much but decided "art doesn't need language". What a wonderful message borne by the LDTX dancers.

****1