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77 views • November 17, 2018

Upstate College Bridges Cultures Through Dance

Celeste Li
Fei Tian College Middletown is not just any other school. [Yungyung Tsuai, chair of the dance department] “The only school, in the United States, I believe, even in the world, that teaches both classical ballet and classical Chinese dance is our school.” She thinks in today’s world, people need to know both western and eastern cultures. Through dance, students are learning traditional cultures. [Melissa Patmos, classical ballet teacher] “Really looking at the very traditional dance forms, whereas at a lot of the dance programs in the US, they have a lot of modern dance, and a lot of other contemporary dance forms.” The concept of “shen yun”, which can be translated as the inner spirit of the dance, sets classical Chinese dance apart from other dance forms. [Mingye Liu, classical Chinese dance teacher] “Teaching Chinese dance, in addition to teaching just movements, you have to teach the inner spirit, and that is a little hard to quantify, because it’s the expressive nature of Chinese dance. So for instance, I can portray Monkey King, I can portray a general, I can portray an evil villain, so a lot of that comes from the heart” For students, dance is their way to express beauty, passing positive energy to the audience. [Cici Ma, classical Chinese dance student] “For classical dancing, we mostly want to express beauty and grace, and the good part of humanity when we perform.” [Indra Kleinert, ballet student] “It’s hard to explain, but I just don’t want to dance because of me. I love ballet, but I want to do something bigger with it, not just for me, but for others too maybe.” At the same time, dancing is also enjoyable and valuable for them. [Sacia Ashe, ballet student] “Just so much you can strive for, and perfect, and you’re always learning something new, even if you’re doing the same movement, it’s always different.” [Indra Kleinert, ballet student] “Everything disappears, you are one with the dance and the movements.” [Cici Ma, classical Chinese dance student] “Although the everyday training is really hard to endure right now, but later in life, if you are ever in a hard time, art and music, they’ll comfort you.” Students from Fei Tian College’s Middletown Campus will be performing at The Martha Graham Dance Studio in Manhattan on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 presenting traditional ballet and Chinese dance onstage. [Yungyung Tsuai, chair of the dance department] “But on the other hand, when I watched it today, we did a whole run through today, it’s quite entertaining too.”
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