SHUNING HUANG FUSING BI-CULTRAL DANCE FOR ALL TO ENJOY
by Nick Christophers
Dancing is a joyful and spiritual feeling, but when you adapt it to a strict discipline of overlapping styles, it is electrifying. Dancer / choreographer Shuning Huang has lived it and is working hard to share that feeling with her audience. Building on her dance studies in her native China, she made it her business to complete a Masters in the field at New York University. Since then, she has performed in more than one venue in the New York dance scene.
Shuning has studied everything from ballet, jazz, Chinese traditional, to modern dance. One of her most important inspirations was teacher / performer Dimitris Papaioannou. His unique approach to the body and how he maximized the visual impact of dance was what caught Shuning’s attention. She learned that dance does not always need to be structured but can be executed with minimal movement with precision and intention. These disciplines shaped her outlook on dance and its myriad of possibilities.
“During this time, I fell in love with modern dance, and it was this passion that solidified my decision to come to the United States to experience modern dance in the context of different cultures, as well as to immerse myself in the world of iconic figures like Martha Graham, Mary Wigman, Isadora Duncan, and others, whom I had only encountered through books.”
She had come to realize through her performances in America and China that they do not vary too much. The only thing that stood out different was how dance is expressed. In China, there is a subtle approach that depicts emotions and a type of storytelling. In the US she has found a more bold and expressive style that allows room to push boundaries and share varied levels of movement and storytelling.
Most performers seem to always choose their first crack in the field as their favorite. This is true for Shuning, her first performance in New York was called “Thou汝.” It was special for her since it allowed her to fuse Eastern and Western influences for a diverse audience. It is one of her goals to bridge cultures via dance and to create lasting, meaningful connections along different artistic traditions. She has taken the stage at venues like NY Botanical Garden, Mark O’Donnell Theater, WAXWorks, Culture Lab LIC, the Tank, Dixon Place, Emerging Artists Theater to name a few.
Outside of her dancing as we mentioned earlier, she is also a choreographer. Her debut in choreography was for the project “Thou汝.” This piece drew inspiration from Chinese terracotta warriors and employed elements of Chinese culture to narrate the story of constrained female bodies. Her choreography in this work aimed to highlight the conflicts between body, gender, and society. She was a part of another three works titled “After,” a series with the first installment being “After Rain,” and a duet titled “Loop,” which explored the dynamics of human relationships within a societal context.
On her plate currently are performances in NYC. On September 23rd she will be showcasing her solo choreography titled “Afterglow” at the Balance Arts Center; on the 7th of October she will be dancing in collaboration with sculptures at the Grounds for Sculpture (which is a part of the The Outlet Dance Project); and lastly, on November 17th she will be part of a group dance performance titled “To Fold and Unfold” at WADE into ACTIVISM.
Currently, Shuning is a dancer in the dance group Six Degrees Dance and at the New York Chinese Culture Center. She also teaches dance where she strives to develop a more effective learning environment for her students. A code she lives by is that dance in its pureist form is an expression with no boundaries that allows various stars to shine indefinitely. It seems her star is shining brighter with every step she takes.
Banner Image: Shuning Huang. Image Credit – Nick Christophers