The reinvention of tradition—in contemporary Chinese classical dance creations (1980–2010)

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Zhu, M. (2015). The reinvention of tradition—in contemporary Chinese classical dance creations (1980–2010). In C. F. Stock & P. Germain-Thomas (Eds.), Contemporising the past: envisaging the future, Proceedings of the 2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit, Angers, 6–11 July. Retrieved June 5, 2016 from http://ausdance.org.au/articles/details/the-reinvention-of-traditionin-contemporary-chinese-classical-dance


Over the past thirty years, Chinese classical dance has developed in parallel with the explicit social process of the search for and the construction of Chinese modernity. Unlike the dismissal of tradition which tended to characterize the western process of modernization, Chinese dance practitioners embrace Chinese national and cultural characteristics for the purpose of cultural continuity as a matter of principle, subscribing to the political slogan ‘inheritance and development.’ This logic of constant change in the nature of Chinese cultural traditions leads to variation in Chinese dance vocabulary and the hybridisation of different dance styles in contemporary Chinese classical dance works. Therefore, this paper proposes that the idea of a reinvention of tradition, based on the premise of the academic establishment of Chinese classical dance as the ‘invention of tradition’, may produce new understandings about the phenomena of variation and inherent contradiction within contemporary Chinese dance creations.

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