It Takes Two: Tango Popularity Booming in China

People dance at the third Argentine Tango Marathon in Beijing, capital of China, Sept 22, 2018. More than 200 tango fans participated in the event. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

SHANGHAI (Xinhua) — Foreign dance used to be considered controversial in China. But now, more Chinese are learning it thanks to the country’s opening up.

Ariadna Naveira and Fernando Sanchez are masters in Tango. They come to China from Argentina every year to participate in the Tango International Festival in Shanghai.

“We don’t know how many people are learning Tango in China, but the number of people who learn it is growing,” Sanchez said.

Tang Jiaying is a public servant in east China’s Jiangsu Province. Her passion for Tango returned after she recently watched a Tango competition in Shanghai.

“My parents thought Tango was not decent and I would become ‘bad’ if I learned it,” Tang said.

“Now we are more rational, and with a stable income and the desire to enhance my artistic taste, my parents encouraged me to take a Tango class,” she added.

People dance at the third Argentine Tango Marathon in Beijing, capital of China, Sept 22, 2018. More than 200 tango fans participated in the event. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

Shi Yiqi, another girl in Shanghai even quit her job to learn Flamenco in Spain for a year. She opened a Flamenco training center to transmit the Flamenco dance culture to more Chinese enthusiasts.

Currently, about 400 people assist in Flamenco training courses every year in Shanghai where Spanish and Latin dance shows and activities are endless.

Hip-hop dance is also becoming more popular this summer in China with various competitions held in Shanghai, Shanxi and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Breakdance is part of hip-hop dance. In the early 1980s, breakdancing made a sensation in Shanghai after the screening of an American film.

In 1988, breakdance competitions were held in various Chinese cities such as Nanjing and Xi’an, while an American breakdance company came to Beijing.

However, modern dance became controversial in China.

“Before the opening-up, Chinese audiences only saw some folk dances of African and Asian countries, and classic ballet was once the only foreign dance for professional dancers,” dance critic Lan Fan said.

“People’s vision changed after the opening-up. Innovation can be seen in different types of dance combined with traditional and modern elements,” he said.

In the future, Lan Fan plans to introduce AI technology in dancing to motivate the interactions between people and machines.

“We are looking forward to the new development of dance in China,” Lan said.