(Interview) A Shanghai Tango by -
September 12, 2008, 10:07 am
Filed under: China

footage: marion blog Quelle: v. 12. Mai 2008

A mystery to some, a controversial figure to others, and an inspiration for many, Jin Xing (literally, Golden Star) is a highly acclaimed choreographer, modern dancer, and trailblazer of her time. Born in 1969 in Liaoning province as an ethnic Korean and male, Jin Xing took his first artistic steps in his dancing career at age 9 with a hunger strike at his parent’s army school. His passion suitably demonstrated, he was allowed to hone his skills in the Chinese military for eight years, leading the army dance troupe and graduating with high honors. By 1988, his successes led him abroad to international locations such as New York, Brussels, and Rome to learn, teach and perform.

In 1996, Jin Xing made his most controversial choice. Having always felt the internal calling to be female, he underwent sex change surgery –the very first transsexual operation sanctioned by the Chinese government. Now, having overcome several social taboos, Jin Xing is a mother of three, as well as being multilingual and the director of her own Jin Xing Dance Theatre. She continues to travel and perform throughout China and abroad. This month, she returns to Beijing with her production, Haishang Tango.

What’s the significance of the dance’s name?

Jin Xing:First of all, this troupe performs often in Shanghai. Tango is a dance from Argentina. It means passion, love, lure and temptation. “Haishang Tango” is a vivid expression of Shanghai’s environment and it represents my experiences in Shanghai as well. Also, most of the background music is tango, which I adapted from the work of the famous Argentinean musician Astor Piazzolla.

There are ten separate pieces in the performance –are they all connected?

Jin Xing:Not really. But in terms of stage design, in rhythm, in expression of emotion, I choreographed them specifically to make them proceed in an orderly way.

But all your dances are based on personal experiences, right?

Jin Xing: Yes. Every dance I have choreographed records every step I made in this field –like the couple’s dance, Wu 02, which I choreographed in 1996, when I split with my first partner. I feel love is like glue, being inseparable, but sometimes it feels incompatible as well.

Is there a general message you are trying to convey?

Jin Xing: I want to try to present a modern dancer’s whole creation process in different colors, different times, and different psychological rhythm –especially with the fusing of Western and Asian culture. I [go through] a complicated study of dancing technique when I choreograph, but when I present it to audiences, I will simplify it. The dance I make is not for an inner circle of people, but for all ordinary people.

Do you have any unique rituals or habits you go through before a performance?

Jin Xing: After we dress and do our makeup, 15 minutes before the performance my dancers and I will do tai chi. We try to coordinate and unify our breathing. In the art of dance, we need to feel our breathing together. Before the curtain rises, I will ask them to hold hands. Standing in a circle, I get their attention and ask them to focus. I will tell them: “Now, enjoy the dance and forget technique. Even if you make a mistake, it is beautiful too.”

Did your operation influence your dancing?

Jin Xing: I don’t think there is any big influence. For years, I tried to discover all the functions of my body, including the degree of flexibility in every muscle. I am very familiar with my body. Actually, the experience of going from male to female helps me in being able to present all human feelings accurately. My works are popular throughout the world because they are very neutral. Both female and male [dancers] can perform them.

What do you say to people who don’t agree with or understand your lifestyle choices?

Jin Xing: I understand them. But everyone has their “own” different lifestyle. Your choice does not have to be accepted by the whole world. I don’t mind if people like my dances but don’t like me. Society contains multiple cultures and different personal choices. When the way you want to live collides with society, if the collision is positive it can lead to change. You need to insist on that. It is just a matter of time.


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