Building Bridges Through Dance

From left: Suleman Malik, Bilal Malik and Nasir Sirikhan.

Quick Style is an Oslo-based international dance group and creative agency best known for their unique style and infusion of various Asian cultures in their projects, with one of their most notable being the Strawhatz concept. The latest manifestation of their passion for dance comes in the form of Quick Style Studio Chinaa collaborative studio created with China’s Sinostage, which debuted last year in Chengdu. With this project, they’re eager to show that dance is an activity anyone can partake in as well as showcase the value of dance as an outlet of creativity and self-expression. Since opening, the joint-run studio has often invited international teachers to open a cross-cultural dialogue with Chengdu’s local community using the language of dance. At a time when many are speaking of building walls, Quick Style shows us how we can build bridges through dance and cultural exchange. To better understand Quick Style’s cross-cultural entrepreneurship efforts, we talked to Bilal Malik, one of the three co-founders of Quick Style, to find out more about their work and experiences in China.


Quick Style是来自挪威奥斯陆的一支国际舞蹈团体和创意机构,向来以独特的创意风格和对各种亚洲文化的融合而闻名,其中最为人熟知的莫过于其推出的Strawhatz 舞蹈项目。Quick Style Studio China正是他们对舞蹈那份热爱的最新见证,这是Quick Style和Sinostage合作创办的工作室。从2016年成立以来,这个工作室已经成为一个文化与创意的中心。这个项目背后的理念是,舞蹈属于所有人,可以让人们以充满创意和健康的方式来表达自我。在当下这个人们相互间“筑墙”设防的时代,Quick Style向人们展示着如何建立起沟通的桥梁。为了加深理解Quick Style在跨文化产业上所作的努力,我们和它的创始人之一Bilal Malik聊了聊,试图了解更多关于他们在中国的工作和经历。

Quick Style teaching a class at the studio in Chengdu.
Koharu Sugawara, world-famous dancer and choreographer from Japan leads a class.

Neocha: How did the idea to start a Quick Style dance studio in China come about? What was it about the country that made it stand out as a potential location for your second studio?

Bilal Malik: The idea came about on our first trip to China. We checked out different dance communities and held workshops all over China. We explored the food, culture, music, people, and different places of China; we also met up with dancers around the country. We realized that it was not like Europe, the U.S., or any other Asian countries we have been to. The dancers here had a lot of emotion. We felt that Chinese dancers have a bright future. We also felt that they would bring a new wave of honest flavor to the whole world dance community. We started talking about how Chinese dancers will grow very fast since people had begun to accept the urban dance lifestyle. It was very clear to us that they are on the right track because they bring all kind of choreographers to teach dance across China.

Then on our last trip, we met Koko, the CEO of Sinostage. She had very different moves than anyone else. She has a passion and mindset that we’ve not seen in many people. She thinks about her people and wants to make dance huge in China, to change people’s lives! We connected very easily. Her passion moved us and we decided very quickly to do business and open a collaborative studio together. Our mission is to provide some Scandinavian mindset to the Chinese community. The country has so much potential. After being in China we have learned a lot. We know that we still have a lot more to learn, and we are sure that whatever we do here, it will be game changing for all of us.


Neocha: 怎么会选择在中国开设Quick Style舞蹈工作室?这个国家具有什么与众不同的潜力吗?

Bilal Malik: 我们第一次来中国时就已经有这个想法。我们在中国各地看到了不同的舞蹈团体,也举办过各种工作坊。我们深入地去了解中国的美食、文化、音乐、人以及不同的地方,去认识各地的舞者。我们意识到,这里不像欧洲、美国或其它我们去过的亚洲国家,这里的舞者有很饱满的情感。中国的舞者前景很大,我们相信,他们能给全世界的舞蹈界带来一种更真实的风格。我们开始谈到一旦人们开始接受urban dance的风格后,中国舞者的数量会增长得非常快。我们非常清楚,中国舞者的发展是在正确的轨道上的,因为他们会把不同风格的舞蹈编导都邀请到中国各地去教学。

我们最近一次去中国时,遇到了Koko,她是Sinostage的CEO。她的舞蹈风格和其他人很不同。在她身上,我们看到了很少有的那种激情和心态。她关心她的团队,并希望让舞蹈在中国发展壮大,想要改变人们的生活!我们一拍即合。她的热情让我们很感动,我们很快就决定一起合作,创办一个工作室。我们目标是为中国社会提供一些来自斯堪的纳维亚的想法。中国有这么大的潜力。去完中国后,我们学到了很多东西。我们知道自己还有很多东西要学,也相信,无论我们在这里做什么,这都将改变我们所有人。

Moving in sync - a class with Toby DeeDaran from Oslo, Norway.

Neocha: Can you tell us more about the process of making this project a reality?

Bilal Malik: The process was really interesting when I look back at it. Once we decided to open a studio together with Sinostage, things moved pretty quickly. We got to witness that Chinese people, or especially Koko, do not joke around when they work! We discussed the design and details and she started immediately. Not long after, there we are at the opening. It happened very fast, and we jumped into something very new for all of us. I believe that both parties have learned a lot from the process, and our relationship with Sinostage is still growing every day. Koko is an extremely talented woman and knew our taste even only after knowing us for such a short amount of time. We trusted her on every decision.


Neocha: 能跟我们分享一下是如何实现这个项目的吗?

Bilal Malik: 当我回过头来看,会觉得这个过程其实非常有趣。我们决定和Sinostage一起开办工作室后,一切就进展得很快了。中国人工作时真的很认真,尤其是Koko!我们讨论过设计和细节之后,她就会立即开始行动。感觉一眨眼,我们就到了开幕日。一切都进展得非常快,那是对我们所有人来说全新的体验,双方在过程中都学到了很多,我们与Sinostage的关系也在变得越来越好。Koko是一位非常有才华的女性,在我们相处了很短的时间后,她就已经清楚明白我们的风格。我们很信任她作出的每一个决定。

Welcome to Quick Style X Sinostage

Neocha: You’ve referred to Chengdu as your second home. What is it about that city that makes it so special to you? What traits have you observed that makes it stand out from other cities in China?

Bilal Malik: Chengdu is a special place for us. Of all the places we’ve been in China, Chengdu always treats us well, and we get a different vibe of the city every time we go there. They are definitely leading in terms of style and art. They are open-minded people and the city is growing very fast. There’s always something to do, and we also love the spicy food.


Neocha: 你曾经说过成都是你的第二个家。为什么它对你来说这么特别?就你看来,它和中国的其他城市有什么不同?

Bilal Malik: 成都对我们来说是一个特别的地方。在我们去过的所有中国城市中,成都总能让我们有不错的体验,并且每次去成都,我们都会有不一样的感觉。在时尚和艺术方面,这座城市绝对是领先的。这里的人们思想开放,城市的发展非常迅猛。在这里永远也不会觉得无聊。当然了,我们也很喜欢这里辛辣的美食。

 

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Neocha: Now that Quick Style Chengdu has been open for a year, what kind of changes have you observed in China’s dance scene since?

Bilal Malik: The dance scene has changed a lot in China since we opened the studio. We don’t think it’s only because of us and the dance studio with Sinostage. The whole community is working together every day to make dance huge in China. Right now, China is arranging some of the biggest events, workshops, and TV shows for dance. Sinostage is doing a great job working with everyone, being open-minded, and making the studio open to all kinds of people. I feel that now, Chinese dancers have more confidence and are moving towards finding their own style. More dancers and a higher level of competition both lead to finding an original way of doing things. In addition to this, the dancers put a Chinese flavor into their art and performance, which makes it very unique.


Neocha: Quick Style Studio成立至今已经一年了,这期间你看到国内舞蹈界有没有发生什么变化?

Bilal Malik: 从我们成立了这个工作室之后到现在,中国的舞蹈界发生了很大的变化。当然这不是单靠我们或与Sinostage合作的舞蹈工作室就能带来的变化。而是整个舞蹈界的共同努力,才得以令舞蹈在中国的影响力变得这么大。眼下,中国正在筹办一些和舞蹈有关的大型活动、工作坊和电视节目。Sinostage和所有人的合作都很棒,他们的心态非常包容,欢迎各种各样的人加入。我觉得,现在的中国舞者更自信了,也正在逐渐找到自己独特的风格。越来越多的舞者,越来越高水平的竞争,这些都有助于他们去发现创意。除此之外,他们的作品和表演中因为加入了一些中国风格而变得更加独特。

 

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Neocha: What is the reason behind sending dancers from Quick Style Studio Oslo to Chengdu? Why is this cross-culture exchange so important to you?

Bilal Malik: There are lots of reasons why it’s important for us to send dancers from Oslo to Chengdu. We believe our dancers grow not only in dance by traveling to teach, but grow in a bigger sense by experiencing another culture. Every time dancers from Quick Style come back to Olso, they come back with a bag full of experiences. They become a little bit more mature about their own life. They’ve just spend three months in one of the biggest countries in the world! Being in a place with different language, food, and ways of thinking, they’re challenged by new situations every day. In the end, they come back stronger and see the world differently. In addition to this, the instructors from Oslo represent us in Chengdu. They are there to share with and learn from the other dancers. Overall, it’s a great cultural and artistic exchange.


Neocha:为什么要把Quick Style在奥斯陆的舞者带到成都来?为什么跨文化的交流对你来说如此重要?

Bilal Malik: 之所以把奥斯陆的舞者带到成都是出于很多考虑的。我们的舞者不仅能通过到国外教学来提升自己的舞蹈水平,更能通过体验另一种文化获得更大意义上的成长。每次Quick Style的舞者回到奥斯陆,他们都是带着丰富经验回来的。他们的人生态度也会变得更加成熟。毕竟他们在全球最大的国家之一生活了三个月啊!在这种有着不同语言、食物和思维方式的地方,他们每天都会遇到新的情况,新的挑战。最后,他们回来时会变得更强大,也能够用不同的角度去看待世界。除此之外,去成都教学的奥斯陆舞者就代表着我们。他们去那里是去分享的,也是去跟其他舞者学习的。总的来说,这是一次非常棒的文化和艺术交流。

 

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Neocha: What is your approach to teaching dance?

Bilal Malik: We really do not see ourselves as teachers or our workshops as being regular “dance” classes. We feel that we share ourselves more than teach them something specific. We can’t teach anyone to dance. We believe everyone can dance. We feel sharing ourselves with people in our workshop will open some gate in their mind, to grow or learn something that can make either a small or big change in their life.  We are happy to continue sharing because over the years we’ve witnessed tremendous change in many people lives – that is our biggest motivation today.


Neocha: 你是如何传授舞蹈的?

Bilal Malik: 我们真的不认为自己是老师,我们的工作坊也不是普通意义上的舞蹈课堂。更多的是分享,而不是去教什么具体的东西。你是不能教人跳舞的。因为我们相信,每个人都会跳舞。但是通过分享,我们可以帮他们变得更放得开,去成长或学习,让他们的生活产生或大或小的改变。我们很高兴可以继续这样的分享,因为多年来,我们已经见证了很多人在生活上发生的巨大变化,而这也是我们今天最大的动力。

 

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Neocha: If you think about the bigger picture and the vision for Quick Style, what role does China or Asia in general play in it?

Bilal Malik: For Quick Style’s vision for the future, China – and Asia as a whole – is very important for us. We grew up as Asians in a Western country like Norway. We see ourselves as Norwegian with a unique cultural understanding because of our strong cultural ties through our families. We were lucky to grow up in a place that’s very open-minded. Many people or countries do not have that privilege. We believe we have the experience, knowledge, and sensitivity to build cultural bridges between different countries. Whenever we interact with people, we choose to go deeper and find what people really feel and like because we care about them.

Asia is a very important place for us. You can find inspiration and discover strong cultural roots almost everywhere. We really believe that art is for everyone and that art is a very important thing for the society. This is why we want to make sure we continue to inspire people with our art and keep growing the movement of creative and cultural interactions.


Neocha: 如果你从整体来看,从Quick Style的愿景来考虑,中国或亚洲扮演什么角色?

Bilal Malik: 在Quick Style的未来规划中,中国和亚洲都是非常重要的。我们是在像挪威这样的西方国家长大的亚裔。我们是有着独特文化见解的挪威人,那是我们家庭所带来的深厚文化联系。我们很幸运,可以成长在一个开明的国家里。很多人或国家就没这么幸运了。我们相信,我们有足够丰富的经验、知识和敏感度,去在不同国家之间建立文化桥梁。每当我们与别人互动时,都会真的去深入地了解他们真正的感受和喜好,因为我们真的关心他们。

亚洲对我们来说是非常重要的地区。在这里,你几乎到处都可以找到灵感和发现丰富的文化根源。我们深信,艺术是面向所有人的,对社会也有非常重要的意义。这就是为什么我们要确保自己的作品可以继续鼓舞人们,不断去推进创意和文化之间的交流。

"We believe everyone can dance." - Bilal Malik

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Contributor: Aleesha Suleman
Images & Videos Courtesy of Quick Style & Sinostage


脸书: @thequickstyle
YouTube: ~/TheQuickStyle
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推特: @thequickstyle

 

供稿人: Aleesha Suleman
图片与视频由Quick Style与Sinostage提供