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Teaching Tianjin How to Dance

People do it on the street, in clubs and in competitions. It is fair to say that dancing is very popular in China, but the professional dancing community in Tianjin is very small. Monica is an instructor at 51 Dance, which has two dance studios in Tianjin: one at 灏忕櫧妤糥i菐o B谩i L贸u and the other at 鍗楅棬澶栧ぇ琛椾笘绾姳鍥璑谩nm茅n W脿id脿ji膿 Sh矛j矛 Hu膩yu谩n. They teach a variety of dance styles from beginner to advanced level.

What got you interested in dance, and what formal training have you had?

I watched a lot of western movies when I was younger, like Step Up..I also watched some music videos like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Seven years ago I joined a hip-hop club in Tianjin and got training there. Later on, I went to university in Beijing and got more training. After university I also performed in some clubs. However, the training I had in Beijing opera from 4 to 12 years old laid a solid foundation for my dancing career.
You are an instructor at 51 Dance Studio.  What is the studio’s specialism?

Our studio’s strength lies in the quality of our facilities and teachers. Our classroom is spacious and our teachers are all graduates from professional schools like Beijing Dance Academy, and Tianjin University of Sport. They are not amateurs but professionals who only teach here, so they can focus all of their time and energy on the students here.

What kind of dance style would you suggest a complete beginner learn?

As everyone is different, it depends on the preference and the personality of the beginner. We don’t force people to do what they don’t want to do. Our aim is to draw out the potential of the learner, using teaching methods that suit them. If the beginner likes graceful or noble styles of dance, we will recommend a beautiful Latin dance like the Cha-Cha or Rumba. If the customer is young and they want to emphasise their personality, jazz is a good choice.  
You teach L.A. style dance. What exactly is that and how does it differ from other forms of Hip-Hop dancing?

 In America hip-hop dance can be divided into two types, L.A. and New York style. New York style is more relaxed and exaggerated whilst L.A. style is more modern, more popping,, more fresh. It attaches great importance to the dancer’s emotions and feelings, and shows if the dancer is happy or sad. It has a lot in common with RnB, which emphasizes lyrics. The song’s lyrics are not ignored and are interwoven into the dance. Therefore, L.A. style is a dance of stories and emotions. These are the major features that distinguish it from other forms of hip-hop.

What do you think of the dance scene in Tianjin? Is there any place you like to go to dance for fun?

In terms of the dance scene in Tianjin it is still in an early phase of development. There are few places where you can communicate with others through dance. Bars and clubs are the current choice for dances. As for me, there are not really many events that I can go to for communication about and through dance. Our studio holds dance competitions sometimes and I like to dance in them. But when we talk about improving the state of dance in Tianjin, it is a matter of waiting for experience to accumulate.

As a dancer what is your ultimate goal?

To be honest, I am not very ambitious. I don’t dream of being the leader of a dance troupe or anything like that. What I want most is to make more people in Tianjin interested in dance and perform it. I hope 51 Dance will have branches throughout China so that we can help more people to dance and to enjoy dance.

What style of dance do you most prefer?

L.A style is my favourite, because it is not just casual movement to the music, but a dance full of meaning that reveals my deep feelings. It has a story within it, much more than many other styles of dance, that’s why I am diligently practicing and teaching it.  

Do you ever try and combine classical Chinese dance with more modern dances?

Yes, I am trying to blend traditional opera elements such as costume, props, tunes, etc, into modern dance. I was born into a Beijing opera family and I had to start training from a very early age. My parents did allow me to have my own hobbies, and so that was when I became interested in hip-hop. Through my studies, I understood that traditional Chinese opera and modern dance are connected as they both require a high level of physical conditioning and acute musical sense. But as this dance originated in the West, and is well developed, it is quite hard to add Chinese elements into it. It is definitely a work in progress.

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