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The Bardo  

Commission piece 2021 for The School of Theatre and Dance, James Madison Universty

Choreography: Xiang Xu

Music Composition: Yo Yo Ma and Laurie Anderson

Lighting Design: Steven P Spera

Costume Design: Elizabeth Powell Wislar

Cast: The School of Theatre and Dance, James Madison Universty


In the space between past and future, having and losing, knowing and not knowing, lies an opportunity for awakening. Bardo is a Tibetan word that simply means a “transition” or a gap between the completion of one situation and the onset of another. Bar means “in between,” and do means “suspended” or “thrown.” Bardo is a word made famous by the popularity of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I think of a bardo as being like a moment when you step toward the edge of a precipice; such a moment, for example, is when a master introduces a disciple to the essential, original, and innermost nature of his or her mind. The greatest and most charged of these moments, however, is the moment of death.            Sogyal Rinpoche

Dantian (2021)

Commissioned Work for J Chen Project

Dantian is where the energy of life– Qi – is stored. It is the foundation of balance, breathing, rooted standing, and full-body awareness in martial arts It is the point within the physical self that connects to the universal life-force. When this gateway is open, we receive from the universal source a transmission of energy that flows through our meridians and chakras until it touches every organ, muscle, bone, skin, and part of our brain, uprooting and transforming stored contraction and fear along the way. The power of this expanding energy cleanses all that we have inherited and absorbed at the cellular level “Cellular Purification Process”. Close your eyes and follow your “qi” to guide you through your own universe inside the place Dantian. It is your unique journey through different unexplored inner dimensions of the “Black Hole,” “Elixir Field,” “Sea of Qi,” and Home-returning.


Gone to the Unseen (2019)      
Cambodian National Arts Center 

Vessels Bearing (2019)
Commissioned Work for Joffrey Academy of Dance

Poet: Rumi (13th century Persian)
At last, you have departed and gone to the Unseen.
What marvelous route did you take from this world?


Beating your wings and feathers, you broke free from this cage.
Rising up to the sky, you attained the world of the soul.
You were a prized falcon trapped by an Old Woman.
Then you heard the drummer's call and flew beyond space and time.


Rice is the lifeblood of Asian culture. When it lands on our table, the rice bowl holds its energy, maintains its warmth, and binds ten thousand grains into a cohesive entity. The bowl is a boundary that embodies the togetherness with all that is inside, and the separation from all that is outside.

The Soul of Water (2018)

Commissioned Work 

Great Hall of the People, Beijing

Different from former Dai dances, the Soul of Water has no traditional pavanes. Although three curves were still applied to display the exquisite bodies of women, some elements of modern dances were added to make the composition more smooth and fluent. The second half told about the little acolyte who grew up and entered into the world of God for his own spiritual pursuit. As the director, I did my best to integrate more movements and expressions of traditional dancing culture into my creation and even referred to Indian classical dance and Thai dances. Through this composition, audiences could witness my deliberation and exploration of the national spiritual status from a child’s angle. From the dark and chaotic world into the brightness of Buddha, perhaps we should experience the love behind it with a Buddhist mind.

The People of the Sun (2018)
Commissioned Work 
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Chicago

Choreographer: Xiang Xu
Venues: David Logan Center for the Arts Chicago 
Production years: 2018

Divinely revealed religions across the world point to a single omnipotent deity. The sun has been given an extraordinary position in early African cultures. Its commanding presence in the sky, its brightness too strong to look at, its light and warmth essential for life—is a powerful symbol for the divine. Depictions of the sun are rare in Africa’s traditional arts, but ideas about the sun underscore its ever-present influence. In some traditions on the continent and in the African diaspora, the rising and setting of the sun and its path across the sky each day suggest the cycle of life, from birth to adulthood to death and rebirth.

         Safe Room (2017)       

Unbounded World (2017)

Commissioned Work  

Deeply Rooted Dance Teater, Chicago


The Dance of Mindedness embodies the human’s spiritual understanding of themselves, their exploration of soul and desire for spiritual power. In the pure light, dancers give full play to their potential to seek disallowed hope and inner quietness. This is the call of Buddha and the realm of Nirvana. For this piece, I deeply explored Buddhist philosophy in regard to contemporary dance. The piece supports my belief in sharing different religious philosophies in dance with different background dancers and choreographers. Dance Teater, Chicago


Company: XY Motion 
Choreographed by Xiang Xu, Hyung Ji Yu 
Music by Debussy, Krysztof Penderecki 
Performers: Hyung Ji Yu, Xiang Xu

There is a room where people can talk freely about ideas and share their secrets without fear of being judged. We all have that small room in our hearts, but sometimes we keep the door locked. If we open it, we find one can exist without the risk of feeling ashamed. In that room, we can be trustfully ourselves and create our individual kingdom to unleash our restricted freedoms. That is the safe room where I stay.

      In Brtightness (2015)



Choreographer: Xiang Xu
Dance Group: Creation Group of The Soul of the Water

This is so I heard. Buddhist temples spread over the world while the brightness shines the whole world. Brightness means wisdom and hope is the direction of life.

Dawn Undersea (2015)  

Choreographed by Xiang Xu 

Performer: Xiang Xu

This piece explores the relationship between the ocean, the source of all life on earth, and the human body. The strange and yet familiar fluid movements of undersea creatures provide a primal inspiration for this contemporary choreography.

Our Yellow River 《我们的黄河》

Choreographer: XU Xiang 
Dancers: Beijing Dance Academy 

Yellow River has recorded the story of our nation…
A passionate river!
An unyielding river!
A river that writes the love and hate of our mother


Our Yellow River chooses the music of the well-known piano concerto Yellow River. Setting Anti-Japanese War as the background, the composition aims to speak highly of those heroes who fought against invaders strong-mindedly. It is the very fighting spirit that hits our hearts and triggers our creation. In our own ways, we unscramble the Yellow River to commemorate that unforgettable period. This is Our Yellow River.

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