Living Dance Studio

Article Bio Works Projects
birth, body, democracy, everyday life, gender, humanity, modernity
Performing Arts (dance, dance / choreography, docu-performance, theatre)
Asia, Eastern
related artists:
created on:
July 9, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since September 23, 2003. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
 Living Dance Studio
Living Dance Studio © PR-photo.


Chinese body language

Raw, sensual and provocative dance.

If their work is an act of rebellion, it is a quiet one. The company´s intelligent and engaging productions combine dance, video, stories, sets, and lighting to document routine and personal acts of life in modern China.
Living Dance Studio is known and respected for its uniqueness and integrity.

Living Dance Studio makes extremely personal work that encapsulates life in China with a documentarian´s eye.

While many Westerners could take choreographer and founder of Living Dance Studio, Wen Hui´s work as a politically charged call for women´s rights, from her point of view she is simply telling it, as it is.

"The pieces they wanted were almost propaganda", Hui says of the government-funded works she choreographed in the early 1990s. "We want to focus on the true daily life and show what we are feeling and what is going on now. That is why we named the company ´Living Dance´. We have to give people questions, not answers".

She describes the inspiration behind the pieces:

"For us Chinese, we don´t have education about the body. My mother never talked
to me about the body. They´re shy, they won´t talk. We went to the public baths, where people are relaxed, like a club. We went to the street to sit for one hour, feeling and listening to the street. We´re feeling this voice - this is our true life, noisy, crazy, beauty. Also we found subtle details. People - women - spitting on the street is very normal. You just sit here and hear the voices".

Living Dance Studio aims at stimulating the production of modern dance in China and invites different artists, musicians and performers to collaborate on each production.

Pieces bring together dance, video, narration, sets, lighting and music to document routine and personal acts of life in modern China.

The company´s rehearsal process is multi-tiered, usually beginning with improvisation structured around a theme or idea. The final product promises to be as viscerally engaging as the process.

Living Dace Studio exists outside the state-sponsored system for the arts, so its performers are unpaid and its performances unadvertised and free in China.

The latest piece ´Report on Body´ explores the challenges and changes women experience as they operate in the shadows of a male-dominated society.

The piece ´Report on giving birth´ explores grotesque, funny and distorted angles and creates a unique portrait of the Chinese woman and the relationship to her body.

In China, all women who lived through the 1950s to the 1980s experienced a unique period. Since the 1950s, women have been encouraged to get out of the house and take part in social production and labor. This trend reached its climax during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
Only since the late 1980s did sex awareness come back to life. However, after realizing the sexual distinction some women began to make use of their bodies to please men or make money, without a sense of self-respect. In the 1990s, the scale of the problem escalated. These social phenomena provide the background material for this work.

Since 1995, in Beijing and several other cities, the creators of the work have interviewed more than 30 such women of various occupations and social backgrounds. The interviewees have included teachers, manual workers, housewives, midwives, a taxi driver, sociologists, engineers, writers and a editor.

Their ages ranged from 21 to 93. The interviews took place at the spots where the women gave birth, and the women were asked to recall the experience and narrate their emotions, observations and perceptions of the child-bearing process.
Author: Karin Bergquist


1994: Living Dance Studio was formed as the first independent dance theatre in Bejing by the choreographer Wen Hui and documentary artist Wu Wenguang.


Report on the body

Production / Performance,
Modern China incarnated in dance

Report on giving birth

Production / Performance,
The performance is based on interviews, projections of images, from streets and audiovisual testemonies of every day life.


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Images of Asia

(08 August 03 - 26 September 03)