Writer Lu Xun works honored in New York

Updated: 2014-10-20 12:22

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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Writer Lu Xun works honored in New York 

The Beijing Dance Theater performs the US premiere of Wild Grass on Oct 17 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, based on Chinese poet and writer Lu Xun's collection of prose and poetry of the same name.  Provided to China Daily

Lu Xun, one of the leading figures of modern Chinese literature, was honored in New York with performances by the Beijing Dance Theater at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The Beijing Dance Theater performed the US premiere of Wild Grass, based on a collection of poems and prose by Lu. "The piece celebrates the individual's will to persevere in a hostile environment," said the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in a statement.

The performances, which ran from Oct 15 to Oct 18 at the BAM Harvey Theater, consisted of three movements - Dead Fire, Farewell, Shadows, and Dance of Extremity - that echo specific lines in Lu's writing, it said. The dances feature music composed by Su Cong, an Academy Award winner for his work on The Last Emperor.

Wang Yuanyuan, choreographer and a leading figure of modern contemporary dance in China, told China Daily that she had always been fascinated by Lu's work and wanted to create choreography that transforms his words into dance.

"Since it's a collection of prose and there is a lot of imagery, it makes it much easier to translate into dance. I can particularly identify with the spirit and the message of the prose," she said.

"The parts that inspired me most directly are Dead Fire, Farewell, Shadows - and even the prelude of the collection - and they made me feel a sense of what [Lu] was feeling and what he wanted to change. This feeling is the same even [for those of us living] today. No matter what era we're living in, we want change."

Wang said that her and her husband, a set designer for the performance, felt responsibility for their creations and contributions to society, much like how Lu felt when he was penning his works.

Born in 1881, Lu felt deeply dissatisfied with society. As a young man when the Russo-Japanese War broke out at the turn of the 20th century, Lu studied Western medicine at a Japanese medical school but decided to quit that to become a "literary physician" instead.

Lu felt that what ailed Chinese youth was apathy and not physical illness, suffering from something he called a social ailment, and that the way to "heal" the Chinese was to change the way they thought and viewed the world through art and literature.

"We live in this kind of society at a time like this, so we feel a lot of insecurity. Or we're witnessing events that we don't feel should be happening, so we feel we should have the same spirit of revelation [as Lu did] to take something that is no longer useful and to change those things," she said.

The audience was receptive to the Beijing Dance Theater's performances.

Wang said: "Regardless of whether they know Lu Xun himself or his writing, it's really the spirit of the dance that the audience took away from the performance."

The Beijing Dance Theater previously performed at BAM in 2011 with a performance of Haze and was established in 2008 by Wang. Born and raised in Beijing, Wang served as a guest choreographer for the New York City Ballet in 2003.