And I’m back! I’ve been working on multiple posts trying to organize all my thoughts since returning from China and switching gears for the fall semester, but it’s been a good three months since I’ve fully finished anything and clicked my “Publish” button. I’ve put my reflection of my semester abroad on hold, but for now I’m posting yet another entry on my hip hop experiences in Beijing.
The bulk of my blog focuses on the research, interviews, and personal experiences I’ve gained from traveling and dancing abroad. In my last two months in Beijing, I met many dance students and teachers ranging from less than one year of experience to almost a decade of being a full-time dancer. It will take some time, but I’m hoping to put my data together and blog about the hip hop scene in Beijing as extensively as I did in Taiwan (which I’m still finishing on this blog…).
This dance post will be different from my previous ones. A few weeks ago, a reader commented on my site and asked me what dance studios I would recommend in Beijing. As I was typing my responses I realized that I had much more information than for just a reply back, so I decided to post my thoughts here as well. Below are the four studios I visited during my stay in 2012:
舞佳舞(Wujiawu) Dance Above Family is the first hip hop studio that opened in Beijing and is the home to the hip hop pioneers of China. Needless to say, its style is more old school, focusing on learning the fundamentals of dance and building your way up to find your own style. This studio houses some of the city’s best poppers and nationally known hip hop battlers, including Amo (popping) and Zaki (hip hop). For a good hip hop class, I recommend Zaki (national runner-up of CCTV’s hip hop battle in 2002-2003) and Wood (founding father of the hip hop dance scene in Beijing). 舞佳舞 also hosts the annual international hip hop battle Keep on Dancing in Beijing every May.
Address: SOHU Western District, Building 17 Ground Floor 8826, Chaoyang District (10 minute walk from Guomao station on Line 10 and 5 minute walk from Jianguomen station on Line 1)
If you’re looking to learn choreography, 嘉禾舞社 (Jiahewushe) Zaha Club is the place to go. They have three locations now, but I suggest going to the one near Guomao (Line 10) or Yonghegong station (line 2 and line 5). I took classes with Bobo, who is one of the most seasoned dancers at Zaha, and he is now teaching at Yonhegong. I can tell from my experience and everyone else’s that he is a big inspiration to the dance scene in Beijing. I spent most of my time here because it is the style I’m most comfortable with, and I was able to learn a lot from the students who came from all different backgrounds. Zaha Club also has a company team called Team Invader who competes at national and international competitions throughout the year.
Address: See the “About Us” section on the main page of the website for the three locations
3. SPY Dance School
SPY, another veteran of Beijing’s hip hop scene, is right next to 舞佳舞 and is known for its jazz teachers. SPY highlights their sexy and energetic choreography rather than the hip hop fundamentals offered by teachers from 舞佳舞. Our jazz team at Tsinghua invited one of SPY’s instructors last semester to teach a routine to Jessica Mauboy’s “Get ‘Em Girls,” emphasizing strong feminine moves from Beijing’s interpretation of jazz.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find their address or website online, but here is a video of their professional crew to see what they’re about:
4. SDT Dance
SDT Dance is a studio in Sanlitun that teaches beginner hip hop classes and has guest teachers come in for special workshops every few weeks. Jun Quemado from Movement Lifestyle guest taught in 2010 and local professionals visit during the week. SDT allows you to drop in for a free trial of jazz or hip hop on Saturdays and Sundays.
Address: Sanlitun 33 3.3 The five-story building (next to Nali Patio), Chaoyang District
These studios were recommended by my teammates at Tsinghua, but I’m sure there are plenty more in the area if you talk to the teachers. From what I gathered, 舞佳舞 (Dance Above Family) is famous for its battling scene and 嘉禾舞社 (Zaha Club) is well known for its studio training. The dancing social circle is relatively close-knit so if you’ve got more time than I did during my months in Beijing, I would suggest talking to Zaki (Dance Above Family) and Bobo (Zaha Club) about getting more involved. If you find new information, please share! Good luck searching and have fun dancing :)
Note: Photo is property of Jia Zheng. Please credit properly!