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                           “Dance Dialogues: A Journey into China's Cultural Tapestry"
                                                                                                                    Xiang Xu, Jillian Harris 
The proposed Individual Fellowship activities revolve around the research project titled "Dance Dialogues: A Journey into China's Cultural Tapestry." This project, led by myself, Xiang Xu, and my colleague, Jillian Harris, both faculty members at Temple University, entails an immersive eight-week journey to various regions in China. Our endeavor aims to explore the diverse cultural tapestry of the country, drawing inspiration from its artistic traditions, and conducting research for the development of our innovative dance technique known as Sinocontemporary. This technique fuses Western contemporary dance with Asian philosophies and body aesthetics.

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Recipient of the Individual Fellowship Grant from the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) for cultural exchange project in China, New York City 2024 

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Xaing Xu

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Jillian Harris 


The project will be led by Xiang Xu, an assistant professor at Temple University, and Jillian Harris, an associate professor. Both of us are contemporary choreographers and experienced dance educators with a shared passion for cross-cultural exploration and innovation in dance.



Our research will encompass studying various forms of dance, including Chinese classical dance, martial arts, ethnic minority folk dances, and Buddhist arts. We will collaborate with local artists and communities, hold free workshops, and participate in lectures to share our knowledge and gather insights. The project will conclude with the creation of a one-hour dance research documentary and a one-week free workshop and colloquium in Philadelphia and New York City, where we aim to engage with the public and promote cross-cultural understanding.



The research project will span eight weeks, with activities planned from August 1 to August 31 2024, and May 1 to May 31, 2025. 

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The project will encompass various regions in China, including Beijing, Zhejiang Province, Hubei Province, Yunnan Province, and Xingjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.



The overarching goal of this project is to delve into the rich cultural heritage of China and merge it with our innovative Sinocontemporary dance technique. We aim to expand our knowledge and understanding of Chinese artistic traditions, which can inform the development of our dance technique and foster cross-cultural dialogue. Furthermore, the project has a social justice dimension, aiming to promote diversity and understanding, particularly in the wake of a rise in violence against the AAPI community and the politicization of the pandemic.



Our research in China will involve an immersive approach. In Beijing, we will study Chinese classical dance at the renowned Beijing Dance Academy and formalize classical dance techniques for modern expression. At Wudang Mountain Kung Fu Academy, we will learn Chinese martial arts to gain historical context. Collaborations and sharing with local artists will take place in Hubei Province. In Zhejiang Province, we will explore Buddhist arts under the guidance of Monk Minglang at Longhua Temple and connect with the community through workshops and discussions. Our journey will also lead us to Yunnan Province and Xingjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where we will engage with local artists and ethnic minority groups.

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Upon our return to the United States, we will synthesize our research into a one-hour dance research documentary that will capture the essence of our experiences in China. The documentary will serve as a tool to educate and inform audiences about the richness of Chinese cultural traditions and the cross-cultural dialogue that has taken place. Simultaneously, we will organize a one-week colloquium in Philadelphia and New York City, which will feature discussions, workshops, and public-facing programs. The colloquium will provide a platform to share our findings, engage with the public, and contribute to the Stop Asian Hate Movement.


What We Hope to Gain from Cultural Exchange:


Artistic Development: We aspire to deepen our artistic development by immersing ourselves in the cultural and artistic traditions of China. We aim to gain insights into Chinese dance forms, philosophy, and body aesthetics that can enrich our choreographic work, especially our Sinocontemporary dance technique. Through this exchange, we hope to push the boundaries of contemporary dance and create innovative and culturally rich performances.


Cross-Cultural Understanding: Cultural exchange is a two-way process that fosters mutual understanding. We aim to engage with Chinese artists, communities, and students to gain a deeper appreciation of Chinese culture. This understanding is invaluable in our role as educators, enabling us to bridge cultural gaps and promote diversity and inclusivity within the dance community.  Addressing Societal Issues: In the context of a rise in violence against the AAPI community and political developments, we believe in the power of art to address social issues. Through this cultural exchange, we hope to create a dance training system that highlights challenges related to diversity, racial equity, and social justice. By giving a voice to minority and immigrant populations, we aspire to contribute to a more inclusive and just society.


In summary, this cultural exchange is a transformative opportunity for artistic growth, cross-cultural understanding, and addressing societal issues through dance.

Exploring Chinese Martial Arts for Sino-Contemporary Dance Technique
A Journey to Chinese Shaolin Temple 2024 

Movement Research 

The convergence of Chinese martial arts and the innovative Sino-Contemporary dance technique has paved the way for a groundbreaking exploration at the crossroads of these two disciplines. Throughout the past week, I embarked on an immersive journey into the expansive realm of martial arts. I had the privilege of delving into intensive study sessions alongside revered Kung Fu masters. This captivating experience kindled a relentless curiosity within me, igniting a torrent of inquiries on how to organically blend the quintessence of Chinese martial arts with the foundational principles of Western contemporary dance.


As both a Chinese American choreographer and a dedicated professor, I have invested years in scrutinizing and contrasting traditional and contemporary dance forms. My artistic vision seamlessly weaves together the traditional kinetic aesthetics rooted in Asia with the established techniques of Western contemporary dance. This intricate tapestry incorporates elements from Chinese classical dance, martial arts, and folk dance, culminating in a profound embodiment of Chinese body aesthetics.

Central to this endeavor is the development of the pioneering Sino-Contemporary dance training system. This visionary approach draws inspiration from the graceful movements of Chinese Han and Tang classical dance, the dynamic energy of martial arts, and the captivating allure of various Asian dance traditions. The fusion seamlessly integrates techniques from Western traditional modern dance and contemporary dance, complemented by the incorporation of cutting-edge animal flow movement patterns.

At the core of Sino-Contemporary lies a meticulous emphasis on the body's natural curvature, the cultivation of a centered and grounded presence, and the mastery of internal energy, known as Qi. Dancers under my guidance harness the power of inner breath control to govern their movements, projecting their artistic expressions seamlessly into the surrounding space.

My ultimate aspiration transcends individual endeavors. It is a fervent ambition to propel the time-honored Chinese body aesthetics to the forefront of the global stage in the 21st century. This aspiration is interwoven with a journey that has been nothing short of extraordinary. Immersed in the presence of these seasoned martial arts experts, I have undergone a profound transformation. Their wisdom and guidance have not only redefined my approach to physical training but have also catalyzed a paradigm shift in my overarching perspective.


Gratefully Sponsored by Temple University: Embracing Funding from Temple Global Engagement, Grant-in-Aid Award, and Summer Research Award"

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Movement Research in Chinese Martial Arts for Sino-Contemporary Dance Technique Chinese Shaolin Temple 2023

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With Martial Arts Instructor Yuequan Yang 

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Dance Residency at Aakash Odedra Dance Company in The UK 2023



The announcement you've been waiting for is finally here...

We have two incredibly talented dancers joining us for the 9th - 13th January for dance residencies.

They are Luke Hodkinson Dance a dancer, choreographer and writer from Manchester & Xiang Xu Dance an international choreographer, dancer and instructor from New York City..



Join us in this exciting Contemporary dance workshop with Xiang Xu

one of the fantastic dancers in residency at Aakash Odedra Company.

Xiang Xu is a dance professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania and is here to deliver an exciting masterclass teaching his own style, SinoContemporary.

In this class emphasis is placed on the ability to adopt Chinese bodily aesthetics: three bodily curves, center of gravity moving close to the ground, and internal energy—Qi. You will learn how to use internal breath to control physicality and expand your movement capabilities, which will aid your artistic growth as performers and your knowledge of the Chinese traditional bodily cultures behind these movements.

Tuesday 10th January, 18:45 – 20:30

32 Belgrave Road, Leics, LE4 5AS

£5, buy your ticket here:


Cutural Residency in Cambodian National Arts Center with Prumsodun Ok

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Prumsodun Ok

Born to Khmer refugees in the United States, I rose from the poverty and violence-stricken inner city of Long Beach to become the new face of Khmer dance. I use art to heal, illuminate, and empower, reviving the spirit of my people from the enduring forces of conflict. Seen by many as a champion of Khmer culture, I work as an artist, teacher, writer, and producer to shape a world where everyone can blossom into their fullest selves.

My interdisciplinary performances contemplate the “avant-garde in antiquity,” and have been presented at the Department of Performing Arts (Cambodia), Bangkok Theater Festival – Asia Focus (Thailand), Za-Koenji (Japan), Godrej Leadership Forum (India), Teatro Benito Juarez (Mexico), bhive (Greece), REDCAT (United States), Currents Festival (Cambodia), Camping Asia (Taiwan), CTM Festival (Germany), and documenta (Germany). They have been celebrated as “a vision of elegance and grace” (The Phnom Penh Post) and “Radical Beauty” (The Bangkok Post).


Interweaving Traditions: A Cultural Residency Bridging Cambodian Classical Dance and Sino-Contemporary

In August 2019, my journey led me to Cambodia, where I embarked on a transformative cultural residency alongside Prumsodun Ok, the visionary founder of Cambodia's pioneering all-male gay dance company. His mission to revive and reinvent the Khmer dance tradition, once nearly eradicated during the dark period of the Khmer Rouge, left an indelible mark on my understanding of cultural resilience.

During this immersive experience, I delved into the intricate physical aesthetics of traditional Cambodian classical dance. Imbibing their dance training system not only enriched my knowledge but also laid a profound foundation for the evolution of the Sino-Contemporary dance technique.



In the course of our interactions, Prumsodun Ok imparted a pivotal insight that has resonated deeply within me - that artistic brilliance is not solely born of talent and creativity, but rather forged by an unwavering courage to break barriers.

This enlightening experience, among others, has crystallized my conviction that dance should never be forced into the confines of an international language. Its inherent multilingual nature is a treasure trove of exploration and celebration. Our journey in modern and contemporary dance should stand upon the sturdy foundation of our diverse cultural traditions, nurturing and augmenting them instead of dismantling their essence. It is through such interwoven threads of heritage that dance truly flourishes, carrying forward the legacy of our collective humanity.

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