William Li is a lead dancer with Shen Yun Performing Arts, and this year for the first time he will be judging the NTD International Classical Chinese Dance Competition. This will be the competition’s 10th event.
Having competed in this competition in 2012 and again in 2014, he is a now dance instructor. Given his experience with the dance form, he is now able to tell whether a dancer is slacking off “just from looking at the back of their head.”
One crucial component he will be looking for as judge is the use of “body leads the arms and hips lead the legs.”
This technique is sounds simple but utilizing it fluidly in dance takes hard work. When used proficiently, the body seems to extend further than it previously could.
An example that Li gave was a simple arm extension. “When you incorporate body leads the arms, the same movement would start from the collarbone.”
Another part of the classical Chinese dance that makes a world of difference to Li is the emotion that a dancer puts behind each movement.
“When the dancer has their heart behind their movements, they will be able to connect with the audience and move their audience,” he said.
He added that by seeing how a person dances, you get a glimpse into how this person behaves in daily life.
“So if we want to give the audience positive energy while on stage, then we need to be good people in our day to day lives as well. This is how we can inspire the audience to be better.”
When asked about how students can be kept away from the distractions of smart devices and social media, Li said, “Dancers who are responsible towards their art will spend their time thinking about how to improve.”
“As dancers, we always find room for improvement.”
“Even if you are already a really great dancer, we all know in our hearts that we can still be better.”
Li shared that dancers should have humility because in a competition, they are not only competing with others, they are actually competing with themselves.
“In every competition, we should be asking ourselves whether there is more we can learn.”