Choreographing “ChinAfrica” through Transnational Encounter

Jingqiu Guan


A dance film made by two Belgian directors collaborating with Guangdong Modern Dance Company, An African Walk in the Land of China (2015) attempts to explore the encounter of an African woman with Chinese workers in urban China in the age of “ChinAfrica.” In this work, the co-directors create a “duet” between an ensemble of Chinese dancers portrayed as blue-collar workers and a black female dancer depicted as a woman from an unspecified country in Africa. In my analysis, I juxtapose choreographic and cinematic representations of the African woman and Chinese workers with the complex social reality of their diverse experiences of encounters. Resisting any singular reading, the dance film provokes questions and stirs up reflections about the ever-intensifying interactions between Chinese and Africans at economic, political and cultural levels operating under global capitalism. This seemingly detached approach, while offering opportunities for multiple readings of the film, also glosses over the complexity of the very ideas of Africans and Chinese as well as their transnational encounters. The gap between the filmic representation and reality unveils the directors’ reductionistic approach to representing ethnic figures and their experiences of each other on screen, indicating a persistent but well-masked colonial gaze.


screendance; Africa; China; gaze

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ISSN: 2154-6878