Springfield, Ohio – Wittenberg University Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Shih-Ming Li Chang has traveled to China and Taiwan numerous times during the past decade to collect film footage of dances and interviews with prominent artists and dance scholars to create a video of Chinese dance performances. Her focus shifted when she was asked to contribute an entry on Chinese dance for The Encyclopedia of Modern China, which was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons Reference Books in September 2009.
The process of working on the encyclopedia with co-researcher and collaborator Lynn Frederiksen led to the development of an approach for a book/DVD resource, which is now in negotiations with a publisher. Chang and Frederiksen presented a chapter from their book in July 2010 at the World Dance Alliance conference in New York City that was well received, and the project continues as they conduct interviews of prominent Chinese dance artists working in the United States and Canada.
From Nov. 18 through Nov. 22, Chang and Frederiksen will share their project with the Springfield community during a Dance and Culture event that will feature lectures and workshops on African and Chinese dance. The event will include “A Lecture on ‘Conversations’ with African Dance” by Frederiksen, who teaches modern dance with attention to rhythm in the music-dance relationship, a focus shaped by her hearing loss and her Afro-Caribbean heritage. Frederiksen will also present a workshop on Pearl Primus’ signature dance, “Fanga,” which is based on a Liberian dance of welcome.
The Dance and Culture event will conclude with China Night, the culmination of a residency by renowned dance artist Mui Cheuk Yin of Hong Kong. The performance will feature solo dances by Yin, as well as a new piece that she will create with Wittenberg dance students during the residency. Also performing will be guest artists Xiao Yu and Xu Ying of Beijing Dance Academy.
Frederiksen is of West Indian descent from St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in environmental studies from Clark University in Massachusetts and then worked for the Massachusetts Department of Water Resources. However, her passion was dance, and she is now in her third season with Peanut Butter & Jelly Dance Company.
Chang is the founder and artistic director of both the Wittenberg Dance Company and the Chinese Culture Performance Troupe in Columbus, Ohio, as well as vice president of OhioDance. She teaches modern, jazz, ballet, tap and Chinese folk dancing, as well as dance composition at Wittenberg, and she also directs Wittenberg’s Annual Dance Concert.
Written By: Phyllis Eberts