Fangrui Chen London
My favorite class in London was Music in London, where we watch different types of theater and orchestra performances in the city. In February we watched NDT2, a world-famous dance group’s performance. My favorite piece, the Big Crying, is a contemporary dance with the central theme on life, pain, and death. In Tori Amos’s melancholy voice accompanied with shrieking laugh and scream, Marco Goecke created the choreography after his father passed away. Those young dancers’ fast limb movements, powerful muscles, and fluid techniques along with the dark stage lighting has well demonstrated the despairing curl down and up, contraction and releases in this piece.
The show began with a dancer twitching her arms in the sound of a roaring train. Sometimes her arm gestures looked like an infinity sign, sometimes like a swimming sperm. Then she completed a couple wonderful spirals like a spinning top. After that the group came up, stretching their arms and pulling their hands facing the ceiling, which seemed like wombs. In those movements I saw the message of birth: we were born in the emptiness, the ultimate end of infinity, and rushed back to the same place we came from. Then dancers rotated their arm joints like flowers, and ten seconds later they lifted the arms and moved the shoulders like birds. Throughout life, we all have a peak like the bloom, short but beautiful; we all face a downtime, when we want to fly out from the cage like a bird.
Then a group came to the stage and performed duets with the first dancer one by one. Their body were tangled and twisted, and their moves were fast and burning like a flame, showing the intensity of love and sex. Later the group did another one-by-one duet, but this time they simply hugged each other and moved slowly in a circular motion, sharing the grief of separation and death. The two duet revealed the deepness of love and the shallowness of death. While in love, we could do a lot and enjoy the variety of emotions; facing death, all we have is endless missing and blurred flashbacks. The dancer in the center also screamed in high-pitch voice when she stopped dancing, but everyone else just gave a short glimpse of her and looked back. People’s companionship is like that short glimpse, never enough in front of the misery of death.
Another intriguing move was when two dancer’s bodies were apart, but their arms were trapped together. They took the arms out but soon tangled them back, again and again. For me, they represented the symbol of marriage. Marriage is a besieged fortress that people outside want to get in, but people inside want to escape, like the dancers tangling and unlocking their arms.
This piece would not be called the Big Crying if there was no pain involved. After the marriage scene, the group came to the stage center in a tight circle. They slowly spreaded out and occupied the whole stage with different dance moves, like the metastasis of cancer. Then one dancer came to the middle, trembling his body rapidly as there was electric current passing through him. From the pain in his move I could see a patient going through the chemotherapy. The shift from inner body to outer body, from cancer cells to the person, implied death always came with pain.
This is the first modern dance I watched live. It has brought me a deeper thought about life and death.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, this spring break we chose to stay in the United Kingdom and explore Scotland, which has always been on my bucket list for its wonderful nature. In the morning, we caught a 5pm train from London to Edinburgh. On the left side window we saw lots of farms with sheep and horses and on the right side there was the beautiful coast line. After arrival, we headed straight to Edinburgh Castle. It has hundreds of years of history, the museum inside has shown us how this castle was used by the Scottish to fight against English invaders. At 1pm we watched a well-dressed British soldier fire a cannon, reminding us to appreciate the peaceful world we live in. After enjoying an afternoon tea we went to the National Museum of Scotland. As a museum lover, I say this is my favorite one. Many different things from all over the world are laid out in a creative way. The glass ceiling of the museum also allowed sunlight to shine through.
The next day we went on a highland tour. Highland is the northern part of the Isle of Britain which has many beautiful mountains and lakes. We stopped at Loch Ness to take a cruise ship and heard stories about Nessie. It was a sunny day. The snowy mountains were a great match with the clear blue sky. The whole trip was 12 hours and we spent around 7 hours in the coach. The driver’s Scottish folk tale added loads of fun during the bus ride.
We returned to Edinburgh around 8pm. The next day we went to the Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse. The royal family has hosted a lot of events in the palace, where the Scottish emperors used to live. The oil paintings of royal people and their crowns and clothes made me feel like I was in the 18th century. In the afternoon we climbed the Authur’s Seat, the highest mountain in central Edinburgh. It only took us one hour to the top, where we could see the whole city of Edinburgh and the sea. Our Scotland trip ended with the beautiful sunset in the mountain.