What a NTD Classical Chinese Dance Judge Looks For

What a NTD Classical Chinese Dance Judge Looks For
NTD International Classical Chinese Dance Competition judge Zhang Minghui. (NTD Television)
Maria Han

With the 10th NTD International Classical Chinese Dance Competition on the horizon, NTD had the opportunity to interview one of the judges of this prestigious competition, Zhang Minghui.

“A dancer has to be able to speak through their art,” Ms. Zhang told NTD.

And for a dancer of classical Chinese dance, they are telling stories of history and people.

Ms. Zhang expressed her understanding that classical Chinese dance “was created for the portrayal of people.”

“We are looking for vivid portrayals of people. This is very important,” said Ms. Zhang, as tip for the contestants. She’s not only looking for great technique.

“The technique that is seen in gymnastics or acrobatics is impressive but it doesn’t communicate a story. So if a dancer can incorporate expression and character into their technique, then they are portraying a person.”

It follows, then, that in order to do well in classical Chinese dance, dancers must love Chinese culture. Only with a strong understanding of the culture, can dancers immerse themselves into their portrayals.

“When the artist improves their understanding of classical Chinese dance, their technique will naturally improve as well. And when the dancer understands the dance, they will be able to completely commit themselves to it.”

Part of the technique is breathing, which is very important in classical Chinese dance. Ms. Zhang refers to breathing with the body and how it directly impacts the expression in the dance. Without it, the dance will lack style and flavor. “How a contestant incorporates breathing into their movements is something I will be looking for,” she said.

But even with superb technique and great control, Ms. Zhang shared that a dancer would be incomplete without a strong will to improve oneself as a person.

As someone who had taught at the Beijing Dance Academy, she has seen students who expedited their learning because they kept their minds uncluttered and open. There were also students who struggled to imitate the movements of the teacher precisely because they tended to add their own preferences into the dance.

These differences seemed subtle but they mean the world in comparison among dancers.

Ms. Zhang encourages dancers who aspire to improve to come and compete. “There will be winners and there will be those who don’t win, but through this competition, everyone will improve.”

With NTD’s dance competition being a recurring event, Ms. Zhang has seen an improvement in the quality of the contestants year after year.

Ms. Zhang wants all the contestants to know that as long as they work hard, they'll definitely be able to improve.

“Believe in yourself.”

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