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Integration of culture and education in Shanghai – Ancient imperial court dances of 1,000 years ago, which were exported eastward to Japan and Korea but lost in China, revives at STA's School of Dance

(Edited from Shangguan News of 31 December 2017 written by Qiu Wenhan)

In 2017, Hu Yao, a 2nd year student at the School of Dance of the Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA), studied with a famous Japanese dance master for one week learning the dance "Lanling Wang". Such kind of Chinese ancient yayue dance was originated in the North Qi period and was originally a men’s solo dance in praise of the meritorious military service of Lanling Wang. After the Tang Dynasty, such dances as "Lanling Wang", "Pao Xiu Qiu" and "Xian Xian Tao", which had been very popular in the imperial court in the Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty, were gradually lost in China, but exported eastward into Japan and Korea.

STA’s School of Dance is one of the pilot schools of the Culture and Education Integration Special Program of Shanghai for the "Construction of High-end Culture and Art Talent Training Institutions". Working together with Professor Liu Qingge who is a famous dance scholar, STA's School of Dance has established the Liu Qingge Studio for Contemporary Dance Art Studies and the STA Dance Research Institute. Besides, STA's School of Dance has also established quite a number of domestic and international dance master studios and projects. With the master studios as a link, STA's School of Dance has been able to attract and bring together the best academic and creation resources for dance at home and abroad, and train high-level professional dance performers and practitioners.

In order to revive the ancient dance culture in China, the Liu Qingge Studio for Contemporary Dance Art Studies invited famous dance masters from Japan and Korea to the STA's School of Dance and provided one week of "retro" dance class to the students. Later, STA's School of Dance may also work together with the dance masters to create ancient yayue dance repertoires. In 2017, during the International Academic Forum on Dance of the Shanghai International Dance Day, 15 domestic and international dance master workshops of different forms and contents were held at STA's School of Dance, providing the students with the opportunity to receive instructions from a number of masters at once. Early next year, nearly 100 students of the 2015 and 2016 classes will also have the opportunity to perform the dances of 1,000 years ago on the stage in Shanghai and internationally.

In order for the students go further, STA's School of Dance has also formed a team of teachers with both the practical experience of the stage and the strong teaching and creative ability. Resident dancers at the Shanghai Ballet and the Shanghai Dance Theatre also come to STA's School of Dance to provide instructions as guest professors. Ordinarily, under the guidance and instruction of the teachers, the students attend the folk dance training, body rhyme classes and other professional courses in the dance practice rooms, and also attend the music analysis, movement analysis and other theory course in the classrooms. 

In order to combine the solid theoretical instruction and performing practice, STA's School of Dance, after moving into the Shanghai International Dance Centre, works together with the Shanghai Ballet, Shanghai Dance Theatre and Shanghai Dance School to actively explore the new teaching model that features the "three-in-one" combination and "performance-learning" integration of "coursework teaching, repertoire creation and performance practice".

At the beginning of 2018, the graduation showcase season of STA's School of Dance will be held at the Shanghai International Dance Centre where the graduating students of 2018 will stage a graduation performance in front of the responsible people of the dance companies and schools from all over China. After the performance, STA's School of Dance will arrange the interviews for the students, which means that they will formally step on the stage and evolve into outstanding dance performing talents.