Thursday, August 24, 2006

July 21, 2006

We’re here, really here, in Alison’s beautiful apartment, about to pass out, but we made it. Okay, I did fall asleep in the back of the taxi from the airport because we were stuck in an hour-long traffic jam, and I did have to scream “Ni hao” for ten minutes before we were let into Alison’s courtyard by her neighbor. And, yes, right now Beijing is a blur of lights and traffic and heading either to or away from some sort of “Ring Road,” but we made it. We even got to see some art.

Alison works as the International Programs Coordinator for the Beijing Modern Dance Company, and the night we arrive in China is a performance there by company members who are recent graduates of the Beijing Dance Academy. Thanks to traffic and a small bout of taxi confusion, we get there a few minutes late, but I still get to see several pieces. In addition to being gifted athletically – they leap through the air, flip, spin and generally gymnastic their way all over the place – the dancers also seem to be exploring subjects important to them. Teen angst, suicide, young love and sex are all up there, but the most powerful sequence by this group of early 20-somethings is about school examinations, graduation, and entering the work force. The fear of not passing exams, or not being good enough is palpable, despite the fact that the performers have already made it. They graduated, they are all members of the Beijing Modern Dance Company, but the stress has yet to evaporate.

After the show, we go to dinner and then to a lovely bar, where I fall completely asleep in my glass of grapefruit juice. Thus back here, and to bed.

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