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Choreographer Xie Xin on working with the BalletBoyz Company

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We first had the pleasure to work with Xie Xin when we were in China for our international tour of Life. in September of this year. The dancer and choreographer has been working and collaborating with a variety of dance companies including Tao Dance Theater and Face2Face since 2014, winning numerous awards for her creations. Back in September, we fell in love with her creativity and unique movement and decided to pursue a collaboration with her. So we welcomed her to our studios in order to develop ideas for an upcoming commission for the company.

Xie Xin highly values the dancers’ input in her choreographic process and finds BalletBoyz an interesting group to work with as they are “very active in terms of research and the exploration of her ideas and movement”. She enjoys processes where everyone can actively participate, encouraging everyone “not to copy my particular movement, but rather understand my movement directions and then explore it in their unique way”. She describes her movement as soft and giving, focusing on connections between the smaller and the bigger parts of the body through continuous, circling movements. She says she has always “had the preconception that foreign dancers have a stricter education, but when I work with them I can see them struggling to give up and relax the weight of the body into the floor. BalletBoyz surprised me as they have soft bodies and flexible minds which easily adapt to my movement”.

When discussing the role of music in her creation process, Xie Xin explains that she often imagines the progression of movement first, before choosing music at a much later stage in the process. “At the moment I am fascinated by natural sounds, especially the sound of wind as it inspires me to move in a fluent manner. Through this exploration, I have become interested in the idea of falling”. Xie Xin explains how she finds falling beautiful, for example when seeing leaves fall from a tree or imagining the feeling of falling in love. Conceptually, it can then turn into something a lot darker, when it is developed into the notion of someone 'falling' out of her life. “It sounds sad, but it is important for me to explore this emotion. When I choreograph, my ultimate goal is to record the feelings I have in that exact moment of my life, leaving a trace of them behind for everyone to experience”. 

One of the challenges Xie Xin has encountered while working with us has been adapting her choreographic ideas to suit an all-male group of dancers. She finds that male and female dancers often bring different energies and dynamics to the space. “Working with just boys, I sometimes find the energy in the room too strong. When I watch the BalletBoyz dancers rehearse, I wonder which relationship to highlight, and how it will come across to an audience”. She also explains that she rarely presents a clear narrative in her creations; instead she develops her ideas in abstract surroundings, focusing her pieces on the close relationships between people.

Xie Xin explains that she has enjoyed the challenge of working with an all-male group for the first time, as she has had to adapt her natural way of moving and explore a wider palette of movement. “Every day I spend in the studio, I can re-discover my movement techniques to adapt it to the group I am working with, so that both the BalletBoyz dancers and the audience stay interested”. Having Xie Xin in the studio with us has been a very inspiring experience and we are looking forward to welcoming her again to develop the material for a brand new project coming soon!

Xie Xin's work will premiere in our production in 2020. Until then, you can come see the Boyz perform Them/Us here.

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