Artists & Projects Directory
Living Dance Studio/Wen Hui & Wu Wenguang
Living Dance Studio, co-founded in 1994 by choreographer/director Wen Hui and filmmaker Wu Wenguang, is China's first independent dance/theater company. Their productions combine dance, video, stories, sets and lighting to document intimate acts of life in modern China, with a particular focus on the everyday lives of women. The company's work, Report on Body, explores how Chinese women at the beginning of the 21st century find their relationship to their bodies being challenged and changed. Report on Body retains Living Dance Studio's trademark documentary and dance theater features, as well as the eclectic, intentionally disorienting structure used in other works - there is always something that demands your attention, on stage, on the large screen suspended at one end of the theater, on the floor. Report on Body premiered in Beijing in the winter of 2002. The U.S. premiere was in April 2003 at Dance Theater Workshop in New York City.
Living Dance Studio operates entirely outside of China's state-sponsored arts and entertainment systems. The company's work is developed in cooperation with a group of artists who are dedicated to modern performing arts and who use these artistic methods to express their perspectives on daily life in contemporary China. Some of the artists are freelance and others work in state-owned troupes, but for the purposes of free expression and artistic experiments, they devote themselves to the activities of Living Dance Studio without any pay. Artists affiliated with Living Dance Studio are generally only paid when international commissions are obtained to create new work, and when the work tours internationally.
Choreographer and director Wen Hui began to choreograph in 1989 for the Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble of China, a state-sponsored company. After several international residencies and fellowships introduced her to modern dance and performance, she began developing contemporary performance pieces independently and with Wu Wenguang as part of the Living Dance Studio. Wu Wenguang is a filmmaker whose first film, Bumming in Beijing (1990), focused on the lives of a group of artists living in Beijing without residency permits, and is considered China's first independent documentary film. Bumming in Beijing and Wu's subsequent documentaries have been screened at film festivals world-wide.
Working together as the Living Dance Studio, the two artists have created important projects documenting every-day life in China, with a particular focus on women's issues, such as Toilet/Living Together (1995), which was performed internationally at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Hong Kong Art Center, the Asia Society in New York, and Culturgest in Lisbon; and Report of Giving Birth (1999), which was performed internationally at the Centre National de la Danse in Paris, International Theater and Dance Festival in Liege, Belgium, and at Culturgest in Lisbon, as well as in Amsterdam, the Hague and Antwerp.
Although Living Dance Studio is prohibited from public performances because of their status as an independent group, the company is committed to mounting each of their productions in China. Performances are semi-public in the name of "internal artistic communication," which means the company does not advertise or sell tickets. The audience gets information about upcoming projects by telephone or from their friends and then goes to the theater for free.