Saturday, May 13, 2017

Crow 31 Days: Beijing to Dallas: Direct Flight

During Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month I am chronicling the achievements of Asian Art and Culture in our fair city of Dallas, Texas. Titas Presents is a Dallas Arts District-based organization presenting the very best dance the world has to offer thanks to the curatorial brilliance of its leader (and my good friend) Mr. Charles Santos.

Tonight was no exception. Titas' signature gala: Command Performance is a breathtaking convergence of the most talented, the most innovative, the most glorious dance. Charles paint these elements for us in a new way. His ability to blend genres and styles in one evening is magical--this is challenge. Charles makes it an Art.

Anytime Titas present artists working in the vast realm of Asia, we are there for each other: Titas and the Crow Collection love to collaborate. For Command Performance, two dancers from the Beijing Dance Theater: Zheng Jie and Feng Linshu boldly punctuated the evening's performance with two world premieres: Walk Alone  and December in Beijing both choreographed by Wang Yuanyuan. Their chemistry for "duet" easily made "two" "one": drawing new lines in new frames of space on the glorious stage at the Winspear Opera House.

Feng Linshu is a professional ballerina and graduated from the Affiliated School of the Beijing Dance Academy. She is the principal dancer for the Beijng Dance Theater.

Zheng Jie, born in Lanzhou, China, graduated from the Shanghai Theater Academy and joined the Beijing Dance Theater after college.

Both dancers have traveled the world. For both world premieres, a distinctive precision flowed through strong layers of technical experience. However, they stayed expressively human in the two works: coupled, impressively synched both with the choreography and with the energy of the audience. As it is with Charles Santos at the wand, it was flawless.

Jie and Linshu joined our group at the table following the performance. Costumed packed away, they appeared in their gala best -a receiving line of admirers flowed by with the rhythm of the courses of our meal. They are excellent dancers, but for these excellent dancers, this was just another night. As if in the dormitory cafeteria, they relaxed and chatted easily both with each other and via WeChat (China's Social Media platform) most of the night. Their presence as young, skillful, astonishing dancers made it easy to forgive them for this--and as we know iPhones at dinner aren't just a Chinese tradition.

As I spoke to their agent, Andrew, he shared that at 9 am the next morning they would be Beijing-bound to get back to the studio. They spent almost as much time flying as they did in Dallas. Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the second-largest airport in the world and third-busiest, was an idea our city's leaders forged with Jie and Linshu in mind -over 50 years ago.

Today, a business woman, a scholar, an entrepreneur, or a principal dancer can leave Beijing and be in Dallas in the fraction of a day. Charles Santos' vision for international dialogues is made possible by creative daring and a city that saw a future in the air.

Jie and Linshu are the bridge, just as this direct flight is between Dallas and Beijing, to our capacity to experience the best: Ballet arrived in China from France, China took the classical elements of Ballet to extraordinary levels of perfection. Today, choreographers like Wang Yuanyuan are creating a  form of contemporary dance reflective of the innovative spirit of a new and global China.

Thanks to American Airlines and the gift of flight that direct flight brings them right to our finest stages. In the audience somewhere may have been a young dancer who's world grew bigger. A young dancer who may take this experience and form it into something new and take it back to China on a direct flight to the future. Perhaps the silk road of today is in the sky. 

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