Contemporary Creations: May 14, 2021
Performance available to stream 48hours
From Xi’an, China, Liu Mo trained at the renowned Beijing Dance Academy from middle school through college. He received a degree in Classical Chinese dance with a focus in performance and education. During this time, he received 3rd place for his solo at the prestigious Taoli Bei dance competition and had the opportunity to work with many choreographers, such as Shen Wei for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Following the completion of his degree, Liu Mo served as an instructor in the foundations of Classical Chinese dance at the Beijing Dance Academy until 2011. From 2012 to 2019, He danced with Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers in Philadelphia, PA. Liu Mo has choreographed commissioned works for Ballet 180, Hua Hua Zhang, Hua Xia, and Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers.
Photos: Kolman Rosenberg
How a series of misfortunes led to unexpected opportunities
How does your background in classical Chinese dance influence your choreography?
My training in Chinese dance was very intense growing up. While my major was classical Chinese dance, which is known for its tricks and difficult technique, we were also required to learn all the folk dances from each region throughout China. Folk dance is all about texture of movement and musicality. My choreography is very contemporary but this exploration in texture remains a key part of my creative process. In addition, I want to bring in the athleticism that classical training gives dancers, whether that training is in Chinese Classical Dance
or Ballet. It is particularly important to me to combine high caliber technique and complex texture.
How did you come up with the concept for this piece?
I found myself inspired by the last two years of my life. My wife and I have had some crazy luck, so I tried to draw on all of those feelings. For a while there was this crazy pattern of amazing opportunities falling through at the last minute. It was laughable. We would get three job offers in a week and all of them would fall through because of either COVID or travel restrictions. We ended up messing up our green card application because of poor legal advice and spent a year in China only to have the country shut down indefinitely due to COVID two days before our final interview. Six months later we passed the interview only to miss our flight to the U.S. because my pregnant wife was bitten by a wild cat and we had to spend six days in the hospital. It seemed no matter what we did, we hit this pattern of being unlucky.
But I also know that if I had more luck, for example, if I were 4 inches taller, I probably never would have made it to the U.S. and met my wife. If COVID didn’t hit, we wouldn’t have gotten pregnant, and I wouldn’t have my wonderful son. I may never have had the chance to choreograph on Verb. We keep going and keep being grateful, but these feelings really inspired the piece.
What is the piece about?
It’s about luck, but I think more than that; it became about our reactions to good or bad luck. We alternate ecstatic or heartbroken but no matter what, time marches on. No matter what luck you face, you have this responsibility to keep going, to keep working hard. Sometimes you are lucky enough to have a partner by your side, other times not. And no matter what your luck is, it’s always fleeting. I don’t mean that in a dark, morose way but rather there is this through line, a zoom out you could say, of how we adjust to our circumstances and what ultimately
What do you hope the audience will take away when viewing your work?
Keep going, keep creating and valuing the relationships and the people who support you.
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