Min Zhu is a Chinese dancer, choreographer and dance teacher, who worked for the Department of Dance at Beijing Normal University and currently is a PhD candidate at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Edith Cowan University. Her research project is to investigate the nature and characteristics of contemporary Chinese dance including the comparative analysis of content and form of contemporary Chinese dance and western dance. As a practitioner, her latest interest is to explore the boundary and intersection of contemporary performance through improvised performance. In 2013 she founded the performance group ‘Company2’ with Dr. Tanatchaporn Kittikong in Perth.
Over the past thirty years, Chinese classical dance has developed in parallel with the explicit social process of the search for and the construction of Chinese modernity. Unlike the dismissal of tradition which tended to characterize the western process of modernization, Chinese dance practitioners embrace Chinese national and cultural characteristics for the purpose of cultural continuity as a matter of principle, subscribing to the political slogan ‘inheritance and development.’ This logic of constant change in the nature of Chinese cultural traditions leads to variation in Chinese dance vocabulary and the hybridisation of different dance styles in contemporary Chinese classical dance works. Therefore, this paper proposes that the idea of a reinvention of tradition, based on the premise of the academic establishment of Chinese classical dance as the ‘invention of tradition’, may produce new understandings about the phenomena of variation and inherent contradiction within contemporary Chinese dance creations.