TAO Dance Theater
China's most upcoming modern dance company is TAO Dance Theatre. Named after its founder and 'enfant terrible' of the Chinese dance world: Tao Ye.
TAO Dance Theater
“Tao Ye is emerging rapidly as a force to be reckoned with, as well as the most exciting name in modern dance. . . . Tao is taking Chinese dance where it really needs to go.” – Time Out Beijing
“His creative work . . . left audiences blown away. Some have called him ‘the next Mikhail Baryshnikov’.” – The Beijinger
Since its founding in 2008, TAO Dance Theater has taken China’s dance world by storm. The company has performed in every modern dance festival throughout the country and has collaborated with leading Chinese artists across genres including theatre, experimental music, film, visual arts and installation. TAO has been featured in performances as well as choreography and teaching residencies in festivals worldwide, including Europalia (BE), Culturescapes (CH), M.A.D.E. Festival (SE), Singapore Arts Festival, Fall for Dance (USA), and the American Dance Festival (US).
Founder Tao Ye danced with Jin Xing Dance Theater in Shanghai and then Beijing Modern Dance Company until he decided he was fed up and unimpressed with the work being created by established Chinese choreographers. He decided he could do it better – and at very least differently – than any of them, so launched out on his own. Dancer Wang Hao, a specialist in Mongolian folk dance and graduate of the Central University of Nationalities Dance Academy, joined him to found TAO Dance Theater in 2008. A third dancer, Duan Ni, danced with two of the world’s leading modern dance legends – Shen Wei (US) and Akram Khan (UK) – before returning to China to work exclusively with Tao Ye.
No longer distracted by the “China hype” or the lure of living abroad, these artists focus all time and energy on their craft. Each possesses the highest level of technical virtuosity but these dynamos are not interested in tricks or artifice. Unlike other choreographers in China, Tao Ye eschews representational modes and is exploring form as content, investigating musical and physical interaction and experimenting with minimalism as well as layered patterns of gesture and spatial locomotion.
TAO Dance Theater has always devoted itself to the importance of dance education. The Company has been invited to teach at the China Central University of Nationalities, Beijing Languages University, Shaanxi Normal University, Yan’an University, Henny Jurriens Stichtin in Amsterdam, Dance in Olten Festival in Switzerland, among other schools, universities, and festivals. They also offer regular open classes and workshops at, among other places, the Chaoyang District Culture Center and Beijing Contemporary MOMA Art Center.
Tao Ye is a graduate of the Chongqing Dance School in Chongqing, China. After dancing with the Shanghai Army Song & Dance Ensemble, he joined Jin Xing Dance Theater in 2003 where he stayed until 2006. In 2004, he co-founded the Shanghai-based physical performance company “Zuhe Niao” and performed in their first production Tongue's Memory of Home. In 2005, Tao Ye’s choreography One Person (a duet) was performed in the Shanghai Art Festival. In 2006, Tao Ye joined the Beijing Modern Dance Company (BMDC) where he toured internationally as well as in China. As a member of BMDC, he choreographed In•In in 2006 and Fantasy in 2007. In March 2008 he founded TAO Dance Theater.
Duan Ni graduated from the Shaanxi Art College in Xi’an, China. In 2000, she entered the Beijing Dance Academy’s Modern Dance program (Guangdong branch) led by dance education pioneer and founder of China’s first modern dance company, Madam Yang Meiqi. In 2003, Duan Ni received a scholarship to attend the American Dance Festival in North Carolina, USA. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Modern Dance in 2004, Duan Ni joined Jin Xing Dance Theater in Shanghai where she performed in festivals throughout Europe. In 2005 she became a member of the Akram Khan Dance Company in London, U.K. where she continued to tour internationally. In 2006 she joined Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York, U.S.A. where she performed at such venues as Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as continuing to tour internationally. In August, 2008, Duan Ni returned to China to join TAO Dance Theater.
Composer/Musician for “2”
Xiao He first attracted serious attention in the late 1990s with his experimental band, Glorious Pharmacy, a Dada-esque performance art-rock troupe that mixed folk, jazz, experimentation, improvised performances and action art to create a strangely surreal sound. Modern Sky, China’s largest independent record label, released Xiao He’s first independent CD that was received as one of the most important recordings in contemporary Chinese music. Xiao He currently plays mainly experimental/improv solo performances throughout China, Europe and the US, and has become the inventor of a quirky yet moving style of music, described as “mystical and surreal, which abruptly veers from the plaintive cries of Mongolian or Western Chinese music to the barbed and sometimes childlike humor of the avant garde.” He is represented by the label Maybe Mars. http://maybemars.org/index.php/artists/xiao-he/ and www.myspace.com/pekingxiaohe
Lighting Designer for “2”
Wang Peng graduated from the Shanghai Theatre Academy Stage Design Department with a major in lighting design. His credits include: German Night of Electronic Music and Modern Dance for the German Embassy in China; Shanghai World Expo, Swedish National Pavilion Day Fashion Show Performance; Grammy-award pianist Zhang Anlin’s solo concert; as well as lighting designs for numerous Peking Opera, theatre, dance and musical theatre performances.
Ping Pong Productions
International Development / Manager
With offices in Beijing and the US, Ping Pong Productions is an arts management organization whose mission is to bring China and the world together through the performing arts. PPP develops cultural exchange projects and facilitates creative collaborations among Chinese and international performing artists, scholars, critics, students and audiences. PPP offers services in consulting for international and Chinese performing arts groups / individuals, and producing for performances, festivals, conferences and creative projects.
Ping Pong Productions is TAO Dance Theater’s producer and international management representative. http://www.pingpongarts.org