Street dance in China -- from niche to pop culture phenomenon-Xinhua

Street dance in China -- from niche to pop culture phenomenon

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-01-09 16:02:17

Dancers compete during the final of a street dance competition in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province, Oct. 16, 2023. (Xinhua/Lu Peng)

BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- In the summer of 2023, a domestic film titled "One and Only" captivated the interest of Chinese audiences, making waves at the box office.

The film, which tells the story of breakdancers against the backdrop of the 2023 Asian Games, secured the 15th spot in the 2023 China box office ranking list with a total box office of 913 million yuan (about 128.6 million U.S. dollars).

In addition to this film, a variety of shows and live action performances have played a pivotal role in thrusting the art of breakdancing into the spotlight. Most notably, breakdance made its debut as an official competition event of the Asian Games in 2023, and is all set to make its Olympic debut in Paris in 2024.

Once regarded as a product of Western subculture with limited prospects for widespread public acceptance, breakdancing, alongside other forms of street dance, has undergone a transformative journey. Today, after years of development, street dance has transcended its niche origins to emerge as a vibrant cultural phenomenon.

Recently, the China Hip-hop Union Committee (CHUC) under the China Dancers Association celebrated its 10th anniversary. Set up in September 2013 to facilitate the development of street dance, the committee has made notable efforts in this regard in about a decade.

"China's street dance industry now includes multiple business forms including competition, performance, variety show and cultural product development," said Liu Lian, an official with the country's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, adding that the industry is striving to cater to the public's growing cultural needs and vividly showcases the vibrant creativity of street dancers.

The most important reason behind the growing popularity of street dance in China, according to Liu, is its integration with Chinese culture, particularly traditional music and dance. Over the years, dancers have created street dances with distinctive Chinese elements, such as revolutionary songs, ethnic culture and traditional art forms.

For instance, at this year's Dancing Mountain City Championships, an international street dance tournament held in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, the group dance competition was won by a team that showcased a distinctive blend of street hip-hop, jazz dance, and the traditional drum dance of the Miao Ethnicity.

"A genre of Chinese street dance, drawing inspiration from Chinese culture and incorporating Chinese elements, is now flourishing," said Lin Qingjing, executive deputy director of the street dance union in Fujian Province. Lin noted that the integration of street dance and China's fine traditional culture has now become a common artistic pursuit of Chinese street dancers.

In addition to its focus on incorporating Chinese elements, the development of street dance in China also thrives on inclusiveness. As an art form that originated in Western countries, street dance has now become a medium of communication between youths in China and abroad.

"Many competitions and variety shows were attended by top Chinese street dancers as well as outstanding dancers from other countries," said Xia Rui, secretary general of CHUC. "While presenting dance moves of their home countries, foreign dancers also get the chance to learn about Chinese street dance and the inclusiveness of Chinese culture."

Speaking of the future development of Chinese street dance, experts said that the cultivation of professionals is the key.

"Although the street dance genre has seen some notable development, we still lack the theoretical framework and curriculum for street dance choreography," said Yang Chao, a teacher at Sichuan Conservatory of Music. "It is necessary to enhance discipline development in fields such as street dance performance, education and choreography."

So far, about 20 higher education institutions in China have developed lessons related to street dance.

"We hope that China's street dance industry will see better development in the future and more professional street dancers will emerge," Xia said. "That way, street dance, as a form of art, can be better exploited in telling China's stories well." 


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