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Street Dance of China lets Chinese style strut around world

By Zhan Xiaohui | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-10-01 10:39

Photo from the Street Dance of China's Weibo account

Street Dance of China, a dance reality show first launched in 2018 by the Chinese video platform Youku, uses the new format of a celebrity mentor and professional dancers for the show, and allows dancers to strut their stuff directly on the street, upending the traditional model for such programs. The show invites four celebrity captains, who select dancers from one of the four tracks, each corresponding to a different dance style, and also form four teams to perform group dance battles. In the end, one champion prevails.

The fourth season, which kicked off Aug 14, has introduced some new changes by inviting foreign street dancers to participate and also updating the competition system. Chief director Lu Wei characterized the fourth season as a competition of the world's elite dancers. Since the pandemic has led to the suspension of many top street dance competitions, Street Dance of China may be the only such contest at present. As such, this season's dancers can perform at a very high level.

After the show started airing, I became fascinated with Acky, a 47-year-old from Japan who dances in the style known as popping and has displayed incredible passion for street dance despite being the oldest dancer on the program. He was chosen by his team captain to battle with Nelson, the French popping grand slam champion. Even though Nelson, who lost to Acky three years before, won the round, the result of the match mattered nothing to those onstage, where everyone was chanting Acky's name. The Japanese man had become a legend to all through his zeal and persistence. In response to the cheers, Acky even took off shirt and returned to the stage for an encore show, which deeply impressed me.

The show has spotlighted many other excellent dancers, including the Chinese choreographer Huang Xiao, who has incorporated Chinese style into his street dancing, such as his performance in the work The Legend of White Snake this season, and his collaboration with Japanese dancer KenKen on Taiji, both of which have great classical Chinese flavor.

Another Chinese choreographer, Ma Xiaolong, collaborated with French dancer Zyko on Learning the Qin, using the Chinese guqin to tell the story of how a student masters the instrument with the help of his teacher. The whole dance is very Zen, with something traditional being reinterpreted through the new world of street dance, enabling foreign dancers to better appreciate the art of Chinese style.

As the French dancer Bouboo said, "It's a very precious experience for me to understand Chinese culture more and integrate it with dance performance. I met many great Chinese dancers here, and they won my respect."

Street dance competitions are expanding their reach, with more widespread publicity, while street dancing itself has become an official Olympic event. Street Dance of China will help foreign dancers understand the nuances of Chinese street dance culture, and also boost the development of Chinese street dance while putting it on the center stage for the world to watch with wonder.

The author is a student at Shandong University.

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