Chinese Dance at UM

In an effort to increase exposure to Chinese performing arts at the University of Michigan, Emily Wilcox arranges regular residencies with guest artists from China. The following is an overview of the Chinese Classical Sword and Sleeve Dance Residency she organized at the University of Michigan in 2014.



 Residency with Visiting Artists from the Beijing Dance Academy 

北京舞蹈学院的中国古典舞身韵研究(、水袖)—— 座和大工作坊

 February 7th-21st, 2014

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Organizer: Emily Wilcox


Professors (Ms) Shao Weiqiu and (Mr) Zhang Jun, faculty in Chinese classical dance at the Beijing Dance Academy, China’s top institution for dance training and research, carried out a two-week residency at the University of Michigan February 6-21, 2014. During this residency, they conducted a series of master classes in Chinese classical dance water sleeve and sword technique, free and open to the University community and the general public. In addition to master classes, Shao and Zhang offered free public lecture-demonstrations, and workshops, moderated by University faculty, on the topic of Chinese classical dance, with a focus on aesthetic appreciation and cultural connections between Chinese classical dance and other Chinese cultural traditions, including Chinese opera performance and Chinese martial arts.



Shao Weiqiu 邵未秋 is Professor of Chinese Classical Dance at the Beijing Dance Academy. She is author of 中国古典舞袖舞教程 (Teaching Program for Chinese Classical Dance Sleeve Dance, 2004).


Zhang Jun 张军 is Professor of Chinese Classical Dance at the Beijing Dance Academy. He is author of 研剑习舞——中国古典舞剑舞集 (Research Sword, Study Dance: Collection of Chinese Classical Dance Sword Dance, 2012).



Movement Aesthetics in Chinese Classical Sword and Water Sleeve Dance – Lecture by Dr. Emily Wilcox (UM) and Master Class with Guest Artists From the Beijing Dance Academy

This is the opening event for a two-week Chinese Dance residency with Guest Artists from the Beijing Dance Academy Shao Weiqiu and Zhang Jun, two of China’s foremost experts in Chinese classical sword and water sleeve dance. The event will open with a lecture by UM faculty Emily Wilcox introducing the history and aesthetic features of Chinese classical sword and water sleeve dance. This will be followed by hands-on workshops introducing basic techniques in Chinese Classical Sword and Sleeve Dance, in which all participants will have a chance to try out these movement forms. Finally, Professors Shao, Zhang, and Wilcox will engage in a moderated discussion on Chinese movement aesthetics, in which participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and reflect on the process of working with Chinese movement techniques and props.

Date: Friday, February 7, 2014

Time: 4:00-7:00pm

Location: East Room, Pierpont Commons (North Campus)

*This event is hosted by the UM Confucius Institute.



Contemporary Traditions in Dialogue: Workshop on Chinese and Javanese Stage Movement

This event will feature roundtable discussion with the two Chinese classical dance artists in residence, as well as practitioners in Javanese classical dance and Javanese puppet theatre (wayang). Participants include famed Javanese shadow theater master and gamelan teacher Midiyanto (aka “Mas Midi”) and local Javanese dance artist Theresa  Rohlck. Midiyanto is a Lecturer in Indonesian Gamelan at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently in residence at the University of Michigan Center for World Performance Studies. Theresa Rohlck is a practitioner of Javanese dance trained in Jogjakarta, Java. She teaches at the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan and frequently performs as a guest artist with the University of Michigan gamelan. Themes to be discussed include the use of props and costumes in Chinese and Javanese dance, the use of stylized movement to tell stories and create characters, and the construction and transformation of “classical” performance traditions in modern China and Indonesia.

Date: Saturday, Feb 8, 2014

Time: 4:00-6:00pm

Location: Michigan Room, Michigan League (2nd floor)

*This event is presented with support from the UM Center for World Performance Studies, the Residential College, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and Arts at Michigan.


Movement Aesthetics in Chinese Classical Sword and Water Sleeve – A Performance Conversation with Guest Artists From the Beijing Dance Academy

Professors Shao and Zhang will introduce important aesthetic dimensions of Chinese sword and water sleeve dance and discuss their connections with martial arts and Chinese indigenous theatre (xiqu). The guest artists will provide performance demonstrations using the sword and water sleeve, and audience members will have a chance to try out some of the movements themselves. The event will be introduced and moderated by CCS faculty affiliate Emily Wilcox, who is currently writing a book about the history and aesthetics of Chinese classical dance.

Date: Monday, Feb 10, 2014

Time: 4:00-5:30

Location: Educational Conference Center Room, 1840 School of Social Work

*This event is hosted by the UM Center for Chinese Studies.


The Chinese Dance Residency will include a two-week community workshop series that is free and open to the public, which will take place at various locations on Central Campus at 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Monday-Friday on Feb 10-20th (5:00pm-7:00pm on February 14th only). Participants must commit to attending the entire workshop series, including a public performance and reception at 5:00-7:00pm on the evening of Friday, Feb 21st. Observers are welcome. Places for the community workshop series are limited, and all props will be provided; interested individuals should contact Emily Wilcox at to reserve a place and find out the detailed location information.



Introduction to Chinese Sword and Water Sleeve Dance – Workshop for Undergraduates

Students will participate in a hands-on workshop in Chinese classical sword and water sleeve dance. Through engagement with these movement traditions, students will learn about the major styles of Chinese dance today, as well as connections between dance and other cultural phenomena, such as martial arts, “life cultivation” (yangsheng)indigenous Chinese theatre (xiqu), and Chinese martial arts cinema.

Performance as Research in Asian Studies – Workshop for Faculty and Graduate Students

This workshop is designed for faculty and graduate students interested in exploring performance as a form of research in Asian Studies. The workshop will consist of a brief introduction to practice as research methodology in anthropology and performance studies, followed by an hour-long performance workshop in which participants will take part in Chinese classical sword and sleeve dance with visiting professors from the Beijing Dance Academy. This will be followed by a discussion on how these practices could be considered a kind of research.

Date: Thursday, Feb 13, 2014

Time: 12:00-2:00pm, 3-5:00pm

Location: For location information on these events, contact Emily Wilcox at



Professors Shao and Zhang will visit regularly scheduled courses within the Dance Department during the week of Feb 14-20th. Through these visits dance students and faculty will have a chance to engage with the guest artists in the context of both technique classes and history and culture courses. This residency aims to expand the international component of the Dance curriculum at UM.


This event is a full public screening of the 1959 Chinese dance film Precious Lotus Lantern (Bao Lian Deng 宝莲灯), widely considered to be the first full-length narrative work of modern Chinese classical dance. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session and discussion.

Date: Monday, February 17th, 2014

Time: 4:00-6:00pm

Location: B830 East Quadrangle.

*This event is organized in conjunction with Arts and Ideas, World Dance, Residential College.



This is the closing event for the two-week dance residency. A public performance by participants in the community workshop series will be followed by demonstrations by the guest artists and short Q&A discussion with residency participants and organizers. A guest performance will also be included by the UM Moli Chinese Dance Company. The event will follow with a reception for all participants.

Date: Friday, February 21st, 2014

Time: 5:00-7:00pm

Location: Betty Pease Studio Theatre (Department of Dance Studio A)


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Generous Funding for this event has been provided by:

UM Center for Chinese Studies

UM Office of the Senior Vice Provost

UM Confucius Institute

UM Department of Dance

UM Department of Asian Languages and Cultures

UM Center for World Performance Studies

UM Institute for the Humanitites

UM Rackham Graduate School

UM International Institute

Photographer: Kirk Donaldson


Emily Wilcox, Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Studies

Clare Croft, Assistant Professor of Dance

Hillary Kooistra, Department of Dance

Ashley Manci, Department of Dance

Nan Wang, UM Moli Chinese Dance Company, Department of Economics

Fan Wu, UM Moli Chinese Dance Company, Department of Economics

Ting Su, Center for Chinese Studies

Yikuan Chen, Department of Near Eastern Studies