How To Go Home: Principal Dancer Xin Ying Introduces Beijing to Martha Graham’s Masterworks and New Choreography by Pontus Lidberg

How do you manage going home with being on tour with the Martha Graham Dance Company?

We really only stay in Beijing for four days with one day off, so it will be hard. But everyday after the show, I plan to take my co-workers out for dinner. There are a lot of late night restaurants in Beijing, nightlife culture is big there and people like to go out and even eat after midnight. After you go to the club or a show or bar, you will go and get a second dinner. You can always get food after midnight, and the food in China is undeniable. I love hot pot, so every time I go home it is my must have, winter and fall.

I am from a Northeast province, really close to Russia, called Heilongjiang. My family and a lot of my students will be there to see me perform Errand Into the Maze (choreography by Graham) and Woodland (choreography by Pontus Lidberg). In 2015, the company brought a program that was made for China and was all masterworks; but this time, we are bringing an international program to them, one we have already been touring. This will be first time they will see us do something completely new, and I am looking forward to seeing the reaction of audiences.

I am definitely more excited when my family and students are in audience, these will be more treasured shows. I can tell that my students are craving something new, and I am happy to show them how a young choreographer like Pontus is using a Graham-trained body. Having my mom in the audience is the most nerve-wracking. When she saw me in 2015, I was still a soloist, so she really hasn’t seen me do that much yet.

Also, Janet Eilber (artistic director of MGDC) won’t be with us, so this time, it will be me introducing the whole show to the audience. I have a speech to translate into Chinese, and I want to pull from Chinese history so I am able to link this Graham piece from the 40’s with what was happening in China at the time. I want the audience to have a timeline for modern dance in America, to give them a perspective on old work. And for new work, I want to introduce how we are doing more of that now too, and this new choreography is a testament to the Graham technique and legacy. We are bringing it into the new age now.

words by Xin Ying | images by Brigid Pierce

The Martha Graham Dance Company will perform in Beijing October 30th-31st at Drama Theatre of NCPA. Click here for tickets.

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