Tuesday, April 23, 2019

EDC Choreographer Spotlight: Helen Wang

Our next choreographer spotlight is Helen Wang! Helen is a dance & movement studies major, who is very excited to be choreographing for the Emory Dance Company this semester. Helen's cast of four dancers has been working with themes of beauty, and she received inspiration for the work from many different sources.

Read on to find our more about Helen's work!

*Responses have been edited for length and clarity

My work is about my perception of beauty, which is dictated by desires and points to the idea of vanity. There is a twofold meaning of vanity - one is being excessively prideful about one's attractiveness and the other is the state of being futile and empty. Both meanings of vanity constitute the framework of my piece.

Since I have a relatively small cast with only four dancers, I start with a core phrase that I choreograph, and then teach the dancers. I also give them prompts to choreograph, and modify the material I give them. The input from the dancers is an important part of the process because much of the piece is made up of solos and duets.

My work was first inspired by a music video called "Ugly Beauty," sung and performed by Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai. This music video reflects some of the social phenomena in Taiwanese society and reveals that now is the age of "lookism." Being born and raised in the same society, I also drew on some personal experiences on the topic of perceptions of beauty, and finally reached the conclusion that the pursuit of beauty is often simply to satisfy one's desire and ultimately it's all vanity.

I was also inspired by a dessert called magic chocolate ball in which normally there are brownies and ice cream inside, and the chocolate dome is subsequently melted by molten chocolate. This dessert reminds me of the idea of vanity - being pompous outside and hollow inside, so I decided to bring it to the stage. One dancer puts the chocolate ball on another dancer's head and then pours the molten chocolate to melt the chocolate dome, representing the ruins wreaked by vanity while pursuing beauty based on unrestrained desires. I also intend to use fake rose petals (either red or blue or both) to create a rectangular path along the stage while the center part remains hollow, which also echoes back to the idea of vanity.

Thanks Helen!

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