Jian Yi‘s residency sits within a wider producing project exploring Eastern Mysticism in contemporary dance practice.
The project aims to bring about more representation, community awareness and topical appreciation of non-Western performance styles in dance, specifically exploring contemporary forms of dance practice from the Asian mystic traditions, including Japanese Butoh and Bodyweather.
As part of that research, Jian has been developing an outdoor dance project, a socially-distanced performance intervention titled Weathervanes. This piece reflects an existing interest in positioning their choreographic practice within public space and inviting audience into dance through a strategy of provocation. A contemporary pagan ritual, the work is an offering to the sky involving an ensemble of (non-gender conforming, queer and POC) nude dancers performing from the rooftops; the piece speaks to a need for a different way of approaching choreography.
It is a militant affirmation of life and light – ours is an erotic mysticism.
Jian is interested in the potential of non-Western forms of dance to critique the idea of progress, and consequently linear choreography. This project research has also given Jian an opportunity to explore nudity within their work. As an artistic choice, nudity marks a connection to the rawness of what we are – while at the same time advocating for embodied self-love and acceptance.
Non-Western traditions of dance have always reflected something more essential, extending beyond bourgeois society and towards the questions of afterlife, ancestral memory, and an elemental connection to nature. It is perhaps by putting the denaturing qualities of the urban environments into question that we may emerge with new and significant conclusions to do with both dance and society. The performance research addresses these questions head-on, using the timelessness of the ritual to reconnect with both queer ancestors and decolonial, anti-capitalist futures that we may bring about through ongoing intersectional struggle.
Photo by Jian YI