Tibetan choreography master seeks the unknown in others

Thu May 20, 2010 2:36am EDT
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By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - Tibetan choreographer Sang Jijia took seven years to finish an idea that came to him while painting one day -- the idea that other people's dark side, the part that isn't known, that makes them whole.

Three days before "Standing Before Darkness" premiered this month in Beijing, he was finally satisfied with his exploration of that spiritual shading through dance.

The result is an emotionally harrowing, 70-minute piece that starts with 12 dancers moving in unison on chairs, while the thirteenth, with leg distended and throat constricted, struggles to keep up after a sudden fall. Her increasingly distraught efforts to speak gradually infect the company, who disintegrate into a violent tangle of distorted movements and cries.

"The title came to me when I was painting in Germany in 2003. In painting, a dark color is not just pessimistic, it adds depth. If there is only light, the person becomes a screen or simply a surface," Sang said.

"So, I thought, what is knowledge of another? Won't there always be something you don't know, a loneliness?"

Sang is China's first ethnic Tibetan choreographer of modern dance, who has returned to Beijing after dancing in Hong Kong, the United States and Germany.

He works with LDTX, the first modern dance company in China to be founded independently of the state.

An earlier work, "Unspeakable," will be performed in Wiesbaden, Germany on May 22, in a homecoming of sorts for Sang, who spent four years in Frankfurt dancing with contemporary choreographer William Forsythe.   Continued...

<p>Dancers from the LDTX troupe rehearse "Standing Before Darkness" by Tibetan choreographer Sang Jijia, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing May 6, 2010. REUTERS/Grace Liang</p>