The Shanghai audience is no stranger to modern dance. Originating in the West around the turn of the 20th century, the art form was seen as a deliberate rejection of the strict movements and constraining garments in classical ballet. In the ‘20s, modern dancers like Ruth St Denis, Ted Shawn and Irma Duncan first crossed the Shanghai stage and by the ‘90s, the country’s foremost independent contemporary dance company, the Jin Xing Dance Theatre, was established.
Now, the first-ever China Contemporary Dance Biennial takes place from now until Saturday (August 31). Moving away from pieces that take inspiration from ancient literature or mythology, those chosen for the biennial comment on societal issues, tackle the deepest human emotions and try to capture the spirit of the time and age in which we are living.