Dai Ailian, Mother of Modern Chinese Dance

Dai AilianDai Ailian (戴爱莲), born 1916 in Trinidad, moved to China at the age of 23. Trained in classical ballet and modern dance (as it was known in the 1930s), she spoke only English and no Chinese. She went on to become one of the founders of Beijing Dance Academy (北京舞蹈学院) and the first director of China Central Song and Dance Ensemble (中央民族歌舞团). She was instrumental in the development of Classical Chinese dance and helped to bring Chinese folk and minority dance back into popularity as China was modernizing. Basically, Chinese dance would be totally different without her.

Check out this great mini bio video below:

And if any Trinidadian dancers stumble upon this post, the Dai Ailian Foundation is offering a 10 month scholarship to Beijing Dance Academy.

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