News: China-bound

Lula Washington Dance Theatre wastes no time moving from one international adventure to the next. In December 2010, the Los Angeles–based modern dance company returned from a one-month stint touring rural Russia and almost immediately started gearing up for round two, to China, from May 21 to June 13. The United States Department of State awarded a $116,000 grant to support the 24-day tour for a dozen dancers. But unlike the Russian tour, which focused almost entirely on performance (including 18 concerts), this trip will be dedicated to both performance and educational outreach, including a residency at Sias International University in China’s Henan Province.


Sias is the first solely American-owned university in central China, and Lula Washington and her dancers will be in residence for over a week. “We really want this to be a cultural exchange,” she says. “We’ll be performing, teaching and sharing our style with their dancers, and we’ll have the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture.”


Aside from the university, the company will be committed to educational outreach in each rural province that they visit. “When we do outreach in the United States, we talk to students about African-American history and culture and our performances have Q&A sessions,” says Washington. “It’s going to be no different abroad.” She hopes to share with the Chinese people a style and culture that they may not have otherwise experienced. “I’m going to go in with an open mind and work with whoever is receptive to learning from us, whether they’re 92 or 2,” she says.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

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The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

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