Even in the third trimester of her pregnancy, Chinese choreographer and dancer Xie Xin still couldn’t resist the call of the stage. However, after giving birth, a number of postpartum symptoms required her to take a break. The hiatus ended up being a blessing in disguise—it helped her realize that she wanted to dedicate the rest of her life to the art of dance, and that, with the right mentality, moments of weakness can be transformed into feats of strength. These revelations lent clarity on not only how she approaches dance going forward but shed new insight on her physical limits and future goals.
Xie has held high expectations of herself throughout all 16 years of her career. Having practiced day in and day out, she holds a thorough understanding of the expressive abilities of her body. Knowing when to assert power and when to withhold it to communicate particular feelings have all become second nature to her. This mastery of body has resulted in a rich lexicon of movements that have captivated audiences across the country.
Xie began her career in traditional Chinese dance, a marked departure from the contemporary dance she now focuses on. Contemporary dance, as she sees it, is more than aesthetics—it’s about the ability to convey the complexities of the human condition, whether it be pain, sorrow, or hurt. There’s a depth to the art form that has kept her riveted. But picking up contemporary dance was anything but easy. In terms of technicals, it was already a steep learning curve. And to wield the expressive capabilities of contemporary dance to its full potential, Xie believed she had to deconstruct her preconceptions of dance, relearning everything from the ground up. Every new obstacle pushed her deeper into untraversed creative territories, and with it, brought about new perspective on how movement and the human body could be used to different expressive means. “Every creative bottleneck was a mountainous hurdle,” she recalls. “There was no comfort zone. However, once you pass one horizon, you’re able to see further and harness new energy. All you need is courage, patience, and a love for dance.”
In 2014, Xie established her own dance company. But before reaching this milestone, she’s had to put in her dues. Over the course of her career, she’s performed with different dance groups across China, including the renowned Jin Xin Dance Theatre, which saw potential in her early on. Under the wings of Jin Xin dancers, Xie went from an amateur dancer to an accomplished professional in the span of six years. Looking back on her journey, she feels grateful. “I’m thankful for the memories during those formative years, and how they trained me to be a professional dancer,” she says. “Every setback I endured, every challenge I faced, every person I hugged, and every step I walked were all essential in preparing me for the future.”
在 2014 年，谢欣成立了自己的舞蹈剧场。而此前，她在国内多个舞蹈剧场都当过舞者，包括金星舞蹈团在内。金星尤为器重当时还算年少的谢欣，整整六年时间，她从一个初登舞台的舞者蜕变成为了一个专业而成熟的演员。回首这种种经历，她是非常感恩的，“感谢那些经历赋予了我最宝贵的青春里珍贵的记忆，也赋予了我作为职业舞者的修养。”如果有重来的机会，谢欣说，她还会走过那些珍贵的地方，“相遇每一次打击，经历每一次挑战，拥抱每一个人，每一个阶段都冥冥之中在为未来准备着什么。”
Since establishing Xiexin Dance Theatre, she’s has been on a creative hot streak. In the past few years, she’s added a number of notable works to her oeuvre, including Plus, From In, Unknown, and Touching. Through these performances, Xie has meditated on notions of truth, humanity, perception, and love. Woven together, these strands of life form a panoramic view of existence as she understands it.
Out of all the shows, Xie says that Touching has been perhaps the most meaningful performance so far. “It was based on my perception of the buoyancy and weight of life in the then and there,” she says.
Xie believes in living in the present moment, but to be fully in this moment, she understands that reconciling with the past is important. She treats every show and every breath as her last, believing that it’s essential in living life to the fullest. This awareness keeps her grounded and has shaped her personality to take on many parallels with her style of dance: straightforward, passionate, and unguarded.
Despite show postponements and cancellations as a result of the pandemic, Xie and her dance trope remain optimistic about the future. At the height of the lockdowns, they were given ample time to unwind and continue honing their craft. Much like her own hiatus after becoming a mother years back, Xie believed this temporary lull was something that can ultimately be beneficial for the group, one that can make them more resilient.
To her, a mature dancer should carry certain traits: they must be cultured, physically fit, resilient, and clearheaded. Dancers with these qualities are the ones who she believes will find the most success. An eye for detail can make choreographed movements beautiful, but contemporary dancers who are attuned with their inner selves is what can truly elevate a regular performance into a work of art.
With loosening lockdown restrictions in the past few months, Xie has found herself with a packed schedule. She’s performed across the country and even starred on the Chinese reality TV show Dance Smash. With dance now being championed by Chinese networks, dance in all forms—including contemporary dance—has been in the spotlight. “I do think this is a good moment for dance,” Xie says. “Movement is the most effective form of communication.”
Despite the growing interest in contemporary dance, Xie says that dance theatres in the country shouldn’t be complacent. The art must strive to reach new creative plateaus, to touch peoples’ hearts, and deliver unforgettable shows. Dance has given Xie much courage and joy over the years, and now, each time she steps on stage, she’s eager to pass it on to audiences.