(What is not written on) The Wall : a choreographic exploration of censorship and the Chinese Cultural Revolution
My primary research effort in this thesis relies on self-reflection and analysis of my MFA Thesis performance The Wall. I discuss the content of the piece for the manner in which it serves as a critical cultural intervention to the longstanding system of revision rather than preservation of Chinese cultural history particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. To conduct my research, I studied articles written by Chinese scholars and artists living outside of China discussing China’s cultural history, reviews of performances of Chinese choreographers and companies from outside of China, books written about Chinese culture by Chinese and Chinese American authors living outside of China, as well as books by American authors about political dance such as Ann Cooper Albright’s book, Choreographing Difference: The Body in Identity in Contemporary Dance (1997) and Susan Foster’s Choreographing History. Throughout my research process, however, I have not uncovered many useful documents about Chinese art and culture by scholars and artists residing in Mainland China regarding the censorship of discussion and art about the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Therefore my thesis focuses on tracing my creative process to develop my thesis performance work, The Wall, in accordance with Albright’s deduction: “In the very act of performing, the dancing body splits itself to enact its own representation and simultaneously heals its own fissure in that enactment” (Albright 2010, p.186). The fissure, or fissures in this case, are between the individual, the community, and space between revision and preservation of history and tradition in China. The Wall is a commentary on Chinese history, Chinese cultural politics, and censorship intended for both Chinese and non-Chinese audiences, but performed outside of China by non-Chinese dancers.