MAKERS China: Yang Liping
Yan Liping is a prominent dance artist. In her video she talks about growing up an artist and using dance to impact the world.
In her MAKERS interview, Yang Liping talks about her path into dance and how she has experienced other cultures through it.
Yang: (translation) For me,
dance is a kind of spirit and
a kind of communication.
Actually, I can use my dance to express
beauty better than through my words.
I come from a small
village where all villagers share the same family name of Yang, a typical name for Bai minority. My mother was from the mountains but my father had seen the outside world. through his time serving in the military. I looked up to him for his knowledge. He is an educated person who was widely respected in our village. As a little girl, the village I lived in was always organizing activities to entertain ourselves. All the villagers would go out to celebrate the harvests with singing and dancing. It was a ritual to communicate with the heaven and earth. It was a very important language in our lives. (peaceful music) Yang: (translation) I
was very grateful for the 10 years in the Xishuangbanna. It gave me a chance to
go deeper in the lives of various ethic minorities in China, many of them were still hidden deep in the mountains. Sometimes it took us three months on foot to go into the most primitive tribes in an ethnic village. We lived and ate together
with the natives. We also harvested wheat and sowed seeds with them. At night, we learned
how to dance from them. (intense drumming and singing) Yang: (translation) Making my first peacock skirt was complicated. I had to borrow money, and making the skirt cost me RMB 1,000. Then I had to get music for the dance, which cost me another RMB 1,000. So I sold a watch, and I negotiated with the musical composer to pay by installments. Only through these means
was I able to finally create the dance, "The
Spirit of the Peacock". Why our ethic minorities, especially those connected
to the Thai people, worship the peacock so intently is that they consider the
peacock a kind of totem. Yang: (translation) It
combines the essence of beauty hidden in nature,
heaven, and earth. I especially like the dance
style of the Thai people. Actually, to a large extent, my understanding of dance and my style of dancing completely originates from Theravada Buddhism, which reflects one aspect
of the Thai people's rational and oriental beauty. Yang: (translation) I
especially like having the sort of lifestyle with nothing holding me down but freedom. I don't like the so-call
traditional lifestyle. Traditionally, a person needs to give birth to many children. Otherwise, his/her life
will be incomplete. Each of us comes to this world with our own significance of life. I think the meaning of my existence is to be a great dancer. Through my dancing, people can see the beauty of human nature.