Marceau Chenault, a French dancer and ECNU P.E. teacher, is opening a new dancing course called Qidance this semester in ECNU. He gave his first lesson on Feb. 21 and ECNU Circle journalists attended the class to conduct an interview with him. Let’s take a closer look at Marceau and his interesting dancing course.
By the name of “Qidance”, we can probably learn that Qidance is the combination of traditional Chinese Qigong and dance. The most specific trait of this special dance form is to use Qigong’s breathing method while dancing. Marceau found it amazing that when we are trained with a balance between breathing movement and dynamic techniques, people get less tired after practicing. Qidance can also provide a lot of benefits for the human body. It is of great help to develop awareness of body tensions and to integrate right postures when you dance or play sports. Marceau wants to show the charm of Qidance to more dance and sports lovers and let Qidance benefit more people.
Marceau introduces the Qidance in an interview.
Marceau is an experienced and creative dancer. Ever since he was a child, Marceau began his life as a dancer. When he was a kid, he learned European Traditional Dance (Valze, Bourrée, Circle danc4, Scottish, etc.) with his parents. Later, he learned in Martial Arts and contemporary dance, and so far he’s been dancing for over 25 years. Now he has his own dance workshop, company, and website (www.qidance.org). He developed many innovative dancing techniques with his wife in “Movements Modes”in Shanghai. He is an expert at designing training activities for people who want to improve their creativity and team performance through movement exploration. He leads workshops for the Festival of Traditional Dance and Music in France every summer. This May, he will organize the Second International Meeting of Creativity & Dance Movementat ECNU, in partnership with the University of Nice Sophia Antipolisin France and many experts from Shanghai.
Marceau first came up with the idea of combing traditional Chinese Qigong with dancing in 1996 when he started to practice both Qigong and contemporary dance. The concept became more concrete when he started his improvisation workshop with Boris, his partner musician, in 2007. Finally, after 2010, Marceau collaborated with Kewen, who is an expert in Chinese traditional practice, to create a progressive pedagogy for Qidance.
Marceau used to be a visiting scholar at ECNU. Years ago, when he was invited to teach dancing at College of Physical Education and Health, he accepted the offer with pleasure and since then has stayed in China. Marceau has been teaching dance classes and leading ethnographic research about Chinese health practices in ECNU since 2010. As a fan of Taiji and Qigong, staying in China pulled him closer to Chinese traditional culture and art, giving him more opportunities to explore the artistry.
The core of Qidance or Qigong, is a rather abstract concept in Chinese Wushu. Marceau knows that for some people, Qi is sometimes related to belief and superstition, like “supernatural power” in movies; but he thinks we should just let go this negative representation and simply think of Qi as a cultural way to be aware of the body and share feelings with others. For example, tasting wine is part of a life style in France, and Chinese culture have another art “of tasting body perception” with Taiji, Qigong or the Chinese Medicine. It is hard to describe because it is related to personal experience and subjectivity. But, by using breathing method and focusing on micro-movements during physical exercises, we can improve the body consciousness. Marceau described his own feeling after his Qidance training: “I feel more intention and more presence in every part of my movement; it gives me confidence to perform my dance with any partner in all situations. It makes more sense to my discipline, because I don’t do it to look good, but just to understand better my own body. It also helps me to be more relaxed during performance and in common life”.
Marceau’s main teaching purpose is to help students of ECNU to develop their creativity. He has designed body-awareness exercises and expressive communication gesture exercises so that students can have more inspiration when improvising and can better work as a team. He will also use a lot of different tools to support his students. Qidance is a special dancing training which is easy to be combined with other artistic styles so Marceau also plans to teach various types of dancing including European Traditional Dance. Marceau emphasized that the most important quality of a dancer is that he can improvise based on his own feeling at any time so he designed “improvisation exercises”9 especially for this course. “Improvisation exercises” comes from his experience in contemporary dance so Marceau also plans to teach students the basics of contemporary dance in this course.
Marceau said he welcomes every dance lover in ECNU to take his course. Students do not need to worry whether they have dancing experience because Marceau will start with basics and teach students to feel the beauty of dance and to choreograph10 by themselves.
When talking about the life in China, Marceau said that he enjoyed teaching, especially working with those who are new to dancing. “It is interesting to see progress in teaching style and methods, and to see students’ likes and dislikes.” Like many other foreigners, it is the unique charm of Chinese culture that captivated him. Marceau also expressed his wish for the future of the culture and customs. There are so many important categories in traditional Chinese culture, thus preservation is of significant meaning. While traditions like calligraphy, Chinese painting, Wushu and Qigong have attracted a lot of foreign people like Marceau, many Chinese are forgetting the cultural relics. To preserve the traditions, people first need to learn to appreciate these treasures. The solutions to making the public and the younger generations accept and embrace the classic needs to be pondered11 by the media and by the society.
Marceau is planning to establish a Qidance club in ECNU. We hope that Marceau can show the charm of Qidance to more ECNUers and Qidance that it can be more and more popular.
Source: ECNU Circle