Clad in graphic t-shirts and colorful sneakers, young Chinese dancers from the group Dancing Into the Future clapped their hands and danced in a loose formation, buzzing around each other in a hip-hop-inspired dance. The dance, named “Uptight,” was taught to the dancers by members of Hypnotiq and was a stark difference from the rest of their repertoire, which was in classical Chinese style.
“[The dance] was set to country music with a hip-hop twist to it. It was fun to dance to. I actually really enjoyed it even though I don’t like country music just because of how energetic it was. I got to mess around with the kids and have fun. Most of them didn’t know the dance moves, for me, it made sense because it’s like hip-hop dancing with a different song,” said Zach Ruffin ’17, a member of Hypnotiq and a soloist in the show.
“Uptight” was a part of last Friday night’s Dancing Into the Future collaboration show in the Modern Studio in the Borden Gym. The show, organized by Holly Barnes, Director of Performance, featured the visiting group from Shanghai in the Dancing Into the Future program in a collaboration between US National Dance Institute, China Welfare Institute Children’s Palace, and the Minhang School District that uses dance to help in the development of kids. They performed alongside Blue Strut, Footnotes, and two soloists, Daniela Ronga ’18 and Ruffin.
“For the Chinese kids, it was really nice for them to see the American kids be free, expressive, and individual even in the way they dance and carry themselves. They all look very different because we’re a very diverse campus, so for them to see all of that and everybody getting along and doing different things, that was huge for them. For our kids, what was really good to see was these kids are so incredibly humble and thoughtful and incredibly sincere in everything that they do, and I think watching them dance and watching how joyful they are when they dance, for the Andover kids, was very good,” said Barnes.
The collaboration show was the culmination of the group’s trip from Shanghai. The dancers, ten teachers from the school, and the school’s principal came to the United States on Wednesday and performed at the Lawrence Boys’ and Girls’ Club in order to see “Non Sibi” in action, according to Barnes.
“We wanted them to come on Non Sibi Week. Many of them are families of migrant workers. They’re not the elite of Shanghai; they’re on the outskirts of Shanghai. They’re in very humble economic circumstances. They came with ten teachers and the principal of the school. One of the reasons why they came was to get an understanding of our philosophy on education. Goodness, knowledge, non sibi, all those things,” said Barnes.
Before the performance, Hypnotiq, Blue Strut, and students who take dance as a sport had a class with the dancers from Shanghai, in which they taught each other different dances.
“It was really a fun experience though because even the dancing style was so much different from our usual stuff. Even though it was very fun and elaborate, it was still incredibly structured and precise. It was really amazing to see how quickly we became a community while we were in class, since we did end up dancing together in partners… Taking class from them was a very special experience since it was very collaborative even though we were all so different yet we found this genuine bond through dance,” said Ronga.
Closing out the night, Dancing Into the Future performed “Wu Cai Zhong Hua Qing,” which featured three groups differentiated by their extravagant and colorful costumes. One group in sparkly red and green dresses danced elegantly in the classic Chinese style; another in blue dresses mainly used their pink umbrellas, twirling, raising, and lowering them; a final group featured boys in purple pants and tunics and tall hats dancing dynamically.
“The dances they performed were absolutely incredible. Their stage presence and ability to perform were just nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The passion and joy they felt while dancing truly radiated off into the audience when they performed. Also, their dances were just so energetic, colorful, and spontaneous. Each one had a different flare to it that really made the audience smile and have fun along with them. As a performer, I really felt their energy affect me and my performance since it was so contagious,” said Ronga