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Dancer fights to preserve, promote traditional style

By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)

08:51, April 23, 2013

Due to urbanization, many villages in Yunnan province are disappearing along with the old ways of life that once prevailed.

In light of this trend, traditional local art forms need to be preserved so that they are not lost to future generations, said Yang Liping, one of the nation's most renowned dancers and a native of the southwestern China province.

"The intangible assets like folk songs and dances must be taught orally to inspire true understanding among the students," she said.

"They are not something that can be taught rigidly through textbooks. Even if you write them down with notes, there still must be teachers who know the different styles."

With funding from BMW, Yang founded the Dynamic Yunnan Art Inheritance Center in March last year in the provincial capital Kunming.

At the center, masters of traditional local art forms are invited to offer training to children from poor families.

She said the center has so far trained more than 400 students in singing and dancing and also provided them with many opportunities to perform on stage.

"If you just store the classical performances in the museums, they are dead," she said.

Excellent students with great potential are expected to stay in the center as teachers to pass the skills to future generations.

Yang said the pleasure of dancing has something in common with the "joy" slogan of BMW because art and automotive design is about the pursuit of greater skill and excellence.

"Joy comes from everything that is nice in life, and life itself is art, too," she said.

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