The well-loved dance musical, “Dynamic Yunnan” is returning to the Chinese stage on its 10th anniversary. Directed by one of China’s most celebrated dancers, Yang Liping, the show recreates the indigenous musical culture of Yunnan’s diverse minority groups that is slowly effaced by modern life.
Yang has been called the ‘Peacock Princess.’ A title that is far from an exaggeration. Born in China’s Yunnan province, Ms. Yang has created numerous dances inspired by both the rich natural life and ethnic diversity of the region. Yet, no matter what she dances, she’s always strong and poised, much like the spirit of the Peacock.
A peacock dancing to the full moon, one of the enduring images of “Dynamic Yunnan”.
Of course, the dancer isn’t Yang Liping, but one of her successors; Yang Wu. But Yang Wu is ethereal in her portrayal of a young Yang Liping, of many full moons ago.
At the age of 11, she was the youngest of eight dancers selected by Xishuangbanna Prefecture Song and Dance Troupe from her village, to tour the region with the troupe. This tour through the local minority groups, laid the foundation of her aesthetics and became the inspiration for many of her works later in life.
“The Spirit of the Peacock,” choreographed and performed by Yang Liping, is one of them. This dance brought the girl from a Yunnan village to prominence and remains one of the most memorable dances of the last century.
It was way back in 1980 when Yang Liping left the soil of her birth to go and study at the China Ethnic Song and Dance Ensemble in Beijing. Even though, Yang was the envy of many for this prestigious and much coveted opportunity, she had a hard time adjusting to the curriculum based on western classical dance. But she continued to practice her own style of dance outside of class and often, when everyone had gone to bed.
In 2000, Yang Liping made one of the most important decisions in her life. She left Beijing to return to Yunnan, to rediscover her inspirations. Three years later, she sold her house and with the money, created the Dynamic Yunnan Dance Troupe. The troupe which consisted entirely of dancers and singers from the various local ethnic minority groups, gave a distinct cultural edge to performances, in all corners of the world.