Summer can be a bleak time for arts in Beijing, but from July 26 to 31, the city's biggest dance event returns. Now in its eleventh year, the Beijing Dance Festival (BDF) is unique because it provides a genuine platform for the talented amateur or the emerging choreographer, who rarely have a voice.
The brainchild of visionary Willy Tsao, often called the father of China's modern dance scene, this festival gives a week of workshops and dance camps (July 19 to 25) before BDF's three-tiered performance system starts on July 26.
For the next six days, mornings are for masterclasses and early afternoons are for the Youth Dance Marathon, which features 10-to-15-minute pieces from young artists seeking a stage. At 5pm starts Springboard, for emerging artists, with an international presence from Italy, Israel, Japan, Spain, France and China, and at 8pm is Focus, for the heavyweights.
China has a world-renowned dance training programme and dancers in international demand, but choreography is still struggling, which is why this festival is so crucial. But not only is BDF building for the future, they're putting on a really good show. As usual, the flagship company Beijing Dance/LDTX's Enigma opens the festival but is still in rehearsal (so no pictures), but here are our picks of the other highlights.