Born in Naijing, China in 1987, ballet and modern dancer XiaoChuan Xie joined the Qianxian Art Theater, the most prestigious dance company in China, at the ripe age of 16. She has performed for presidents Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao. Although Xie excelled at the art, winning the National Dance Competition in China for modern dance performance in 2008, she was nonetheless searching for something more.
Therefore, she went to Shanghai in order to take modern and post-modern dance classes. However, she discovered much more than she had hoped for: the work of Martha Graham. Seeing the Martha Graham Dance Company perform, she made the leap to move to America although her parents were a bit reluctant. Now, Ms. Xie will make her debut on March 15 dancing in Robert Wilson’s Snow on the Mesa and Martha Graham’s Maple Leaf Rag at the opening night gala celebrating the Martha Graham Dance Company’s 85th anniversary. She is living proof that dreams do become reality with a little determination.
Here’s a little glimpse into her artistic mind:
M.I.S.S.: What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
M.I.S.S.: How did you get your start as a dancer?
I was brought to the dance school by my mother accidentally. The only reason that she brought me to this dance school is that she had the army uniform dream as a girl, and this school belongs to the Chinese army. They offered us [all those enrolled in the school] army status and the uniform . So one day, my mother came to me said: “Do you want to dance?” I said sure! (actually I didn’t know what dance was at the time). Then my dance school life started. I fell in love with it and knew I was going to be a professional dancer after 2 years of disciplined dance training. As Graham said: “if you don’t know what to do, just take one thing, do it long enough and hard enough, you will find out what to do.”
M.I.S.S.: What is it about modern dance that you liked better than ballet and Chinese dance?
Ballet and Chinese dance are both classic-formed dances. Everything is set; I had to be perfect and precise in every step, as if [I were] a beautiful painting or an exquisite doll. But modern dance allows more freedom for me to present myself on stage. Instead of being anyone else or beautiful figures, modern dance brings myself on stage, a true human being with my voice and life experience.
M.I.S.S.: What’s your favorite piece that you’ve performed?
Chronicle (by Martha Graham, 1936)
M.I.S.S.: Now that you have achieved your dream of dancing for the Martha Graham Dance Company what do you plan to do next?
I love Graham, which I found as my stage language. I’m planning to bring it to China, to give people in China the chance to know Graham, and be able to use Graham’s spirit through their whole life. I introduced the Dean of Beijing Dance Academy to our Artistic Director, Janet Eilber last year. He is pleased to have Graham teachers going to Beijing giving lectures and classes and setting Graham pieces for their students, which is in process now. I’m still working on that, introducing Graham to universities in China.
M.I.S.S.: What part of being a professional dancer is the most challenging and that you dislike the most?
The most challenging part is touring. I have to travel a lot with the company to give performances all around the world. Dancing is hard enough, besides it, there is traveling, packing, unpacking… which is exhausting. I have to get over it and still give a wonderful performance for the audience as usual.The most disliked part is that as a professional dancer, I have to take corrections from everyone, everyone.
M.I.S.S.: . Any advice for ladies who have dreams of being professional dancers?
I read “What I talk about when I talk about running” by Haruki Murakami. He talked about the three most important qualities a novelist has to have: TALENT, FOCUS, ENDURANCE. For me, they are exactly the same for a dancer. So, I would suggest that they just keep going with these three elements throughout their whole life.
Sound words from a rising star. Expect to see great things from XiaoChuan Xie in the near future.
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