Institute for Dance Studies 2021 Keynote and Workshop Series with Emily Wilcox

When and Where

Friday, January 29, 2021 1:00 pm to Saturday, January 30, 2021 1:00 pm
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
79 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2E5


Keynote (Friday afternoon, 1-5pm):

Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy

In this talk Wilcox will discuss her recent book, Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy. As the first English-language history of dance in the People’s Republic of China, it uses previously unexamined dance films, a wide range of Chinese-language published and archival materials, and ethnographic field research to analyze the work of major Chinese choreographers from 1935 to 2015. Wilcox challenges the previously held view that Soviet ballet was the primary transnational force shaping China’s socialist dance creation, instead showing the impact of a broader range of intercultural connections, from Trinidad and London to North Korea and Uzbekistan. She shows the important role that ethnic minority and diaspora artists played in twentieth-century Chinese dance history and demonstrates continuities and changes from the early socialist period to new choreography that has emerged in the past two decades. A central argument of the book is that socialist dance experiments laid the basis for what is today known around the world as “Chinese Dance.”

Workshop (Saturday morning, 9am-1pm):

This workshop will guide participants in an embodied exploration of some of the diverse movement forms found in contemporary Chinese Dance. Using a combination of dance video appreciation and hands-on movement exercises, Wilcox will introduce major styles of Chinese Dance and their key body positions, props, movement techniques, and aesthetic ideals. Through the workshop, participants will gain a physical appreciation for the artistic techniques of Chinese Dance and will also learn to identify and interpret common dance styles employed in contemporary Chinese Dance choreography and classroom training. No knowledge of Chinese language or culture or prior training in dance is required. 

Presenter Bio:

Emily Wilcox is Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. She is a specialist in Asian performance, with a focus on dance in the People's Republic of China. Wilcox is the author of Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy (University of California Press 2019) and co-editor of Corporeal Politics: Dancing East Asia (University of Michigan Press 2020). She is the co-creator of the digital image collection Pioneers of Chinese Dance and is co-curator of the 2017 exhibition "Chinese Dance: National Movements in a Revolutionary Age, 1945-1965." Wilcox has given lectures on Chinese dance around the world and has published more than twenty academic articles, in both English and Chinese, on Asian dance and performance.


79 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2E5