Chun Zhang, 1988, Shanghai, China

Artistic director, dancer, choreographer, dance teacher

 

Education and Career 

1998-2004 Chinese Dance Major, Shanghai Dance School, CN

2004-2008 BA - Chinese Dance-Performance and Pedagogy, Beijing Dance Academy, CN

2007-2008 Dancer of Youth Dancing Troupe, Beijing Dance Academy, CN

2008-2011 MA - Research in history and aesthetic of chinese classical dance at Beijing Dance Academy, CN

2008-2010 Dance Teacher at Continuous Education College, Beijing Dance Academy, CN

2011-2015 Dance Teacher, Choreographer, Dancer at Macao Conservatory, CN

2015-2018 MA - Tanzkomposition: Choreography, Folkwang Universität der Künste, DE

2017 Laban movement analysis at Tanzfabrik, Berlin, DE

2018 Pilates Mat Trainer Certification by Polestar Pilates

Since 2018 Freelance dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, Pilates Trainer in NRW, DE

Since 2019 Choreographer, Artistic Director, Manager, YIBU DANCE, DE

2021 LBBS Fundamental (Imgard Bartenieff) focused certification program, Berlin, DE

 

Awards and prizes (selected)

2019 Kurt Jooss Preis, Essen, DE

2017 STIBET from DAAD Folkwang Universität der Künste, Essen, DE

2010 3rd Prize by Academic Cup Beijing Dance Academy, CN

2007 2nd Prize,11th Dancing Competition Beijing, CN

 

Performances and works (selected) 

2003 with Shanghai Cultural Bureau, performing dance solo Impression of Sunrise, Union of the Comoros, Republic of Madagascar, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Seychelles, Réunion. 

2004 with the Shanghai Cultural Bureau, performing the dance solo Impression of Sunrise, Lille, FR. 

2004 with Shanghai Cultural Bureau, performing the dance solo Impression of Sunrise, Khartoum, Sudan SDN. 

2005 with Beijing Dance Academy as a dancer, visited Seoul, KOR. 

2006 with the Youth Dancing Troupe, Beijing Dance Academy, as a dancer, visited Kyoto, JP. 

2007 with the dance performance The spring, visited Singapore SGP. 

2008 as a dancer in the show Hainan Hainan, visited Nur-Sultan, Republic of Kazakhstan, KAZ. 

2011-2014 danced in several big productions in Macau Dance Troupe: Guangzhou International Arts Festival, Xi Jiang International Arts Festival; Macau International Arts Festiva, CN.  

2011-2014 created five short dance pieces and one full evening dance theater work for the students of Macau Conservatory, school of dance, as well as Macau Dance Troupe, CN.  

2015-2017 created twelve pieces during the master study of choreography in Folkwang university of arts, visited many theaters and festivals in NRW, DE. Traveling between China and Germany.

2017 created ´being far away from´, a thirty minutes work for the Folkwang Tanzstudio as graduation work for her master study, Essen, DE. 

Founded YIBU DANCE, a production entity for the works of Chun Zhang and Kai Strathmann in 2019, Velbert, DE.  

Movement language and skills

Chinese Classical Dance (master), Chinese Folklore, Chinese Opera, Qi Gong und Tai chi, Ballet, Jooss Leeder Technique from Stephan Brinkmann and Lutz Förster, Pilates, Laban movement analysis 

 

Spiritual Practice

Regular meditation practice since 2015; Daily meditation practice since 2020
Taoism and Buddhist philosophy under the teachings of: Thích Nhất Hạnh; Jiddu Krishnamurti; Nan Huai Chin; Zhuangzi; Laozi

Language skills

Chinese (mother tongue) , english (secondary tongue), german (C2), french (beginner)

THE STORY

Chun was born 1988 in a family with a father working in media and advertising and a mother who is the first generation of Chinese dance teacher with a bachelor degree in China. Chun was trained in Chinese dance and ballet since she was ten under her mother's guidance, in Shanghai dance school. She toured with her contemporary Chinese dance solo 'The Morning Breeze' created by famous Chinese choreographer Xiao Gang Zhao to five African countries, France, Belgium and Sudan when she was 15. She recalled as 'feeling free, confident and expressive during modern dance classes and always getting the best feedback from choreography homework and creative composition tasks, compared to Chinese dance technique classes'.  Though she couldn't follow her passion due to many reasons like the social mentality in the country, the disagreement of the family and so on, during her bachelor and master study in Chinese classical dance in Beijing Dance Academy, she was always a 'sneaky' guest student of the choreography department. Meanwhile, the Chinese classical dance education has given her subtle eastern holistic approach to life and aesthetic, where human and nature are one, subject and object are one.

 

She worked subsequently in Macau Conservatory as a dance teacher, choreographer and dancer, benefited from the openness of this special administration area of China, worked alongside the famous Contemporary dance Choreographers like Chengming Gao, Ying E Ding and Min Jian Yang; got to know the international contemporary dance community and its aesthetic. For the first time, she could free herself from the form and aesthetic training of a certain dance style, and create pieces from her own interests and point of view. The rigorous 13 years of technique drilling before, has given her solid quality, movement sensitivity and clearness. During this period, her creative talent was given much space and created six group pieces for the students, co-created one major dance opera, and toured in different areas in China. In 2014 she encountered famous musician Chi Sing Kung from Hong Kong, who encouraged her to leave the country, pursue her dream as a dance creator, and claimed to see some 'Pina Bausch' in her. She got her visa two days before the flight to Germany, did the audition for master of  Choreography in Folkwang University of Arts and made it. It was a hard decision to make, to leave her family and country, since her mother was officially claimed to have disappeared in 2005 and her father was suffering chronic illness, while Chun is the only child of the family. Still, she decided to break through the fate and came to Germany.

During her study, she met Kai Strathmann and soon they became partners in life and arts. Kai Strathmann was trained in IT engineering, but couldn't imagine himself getting old without exploring his movement talent, quitted the very promising  job,  started a journey in urban dance scene in 2005, took workshops from famous stars all over Los Angeles and later toured with his own workshops alongside his idols in the scene. In 2011 he saw Malou Airado's piece which she fused urban dance and contemporary dance: he was shocked and determined to improve himself in the direction of true self expression through dance, grow further out from his style-orientated background. He wanted to follow Malou and tried to apply for the master degree of choreography in Folkwang University of Arts, but was announced that the requirement is a bachelor degree in dance which he didn't have. So he started to train ballet and contemporary dance at the age of 29, and got accepted by the bachelor of contemporary dance in 2011. In 2013, during a repertoire workshop of Le Sacre du Printemps, he was selected as a contract dance for the piece and toured with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. In 2015, he got finally accepted by the master degree of Choreography. Chun and Kai's totally different backgrounds, not only in dance language, but also in cultural values and mentalities, have become their fuel to destroy and create. But the drive behind, to find their own deep expression in movement, is so similar. They always joke that the best language they can speak together is movement creation since both of them have to be neutral, respectful and leave their past behind.

 

Chun’s interaction with Malou Airado, Stefan Brinkmann, Rodolpho Leonie, Henrietta Horn, Lutz Föster was rich and full of respect, she got inspired and guided by their art craft, pureness and strong artistic sensitivity, was encouraged to leave insecurity and accept the true necessity and aesthetics in movement, given much space to find her own artistic expression. At the same time, a strong western human-centered, self expression and subjective approach of life and aesthetic, has collide with her integrative view of the world. Under such intensive exchange, her works were more fresh, daring, multi-facet. For the first time, her creations started from the interest and taste of the fundamental qualities of movements, this artcraft, her personal view and feeling were becoming one; the trace of unintegrated techniques faded away gradually. From 2015-2017, She created more then ten pieces, toured around NRW and China, became the first master choreography student who did 'Exercitium' for the second year bachelor students and created her graduation piece 'Being far away from' with the Folkwang Tanzstudio.

In 2017, shortly before she finished her study, Chun was pregnant. The same year, her father passed away. She gave birth in early 2018 and suffered heavily from mental health problems, survival crisis and break down. Realizing that it was wrong timing to take the responsibility of building a family, and there was still unsolved trauma in the 'mother-child' relationship, the couple decided to release the child to adoption. They went into healing and self discovery in the same year and temporarily left their dance career. In June 2019, both of Chun and Kai's graduation pieces with the Folkwang Tanzstudio were nominated by the 'Kurt Jooss Preis', when Chun won the jury prize. The same year, they founded YIBU DANCE, signaling their coming back to dance.

NOW

From the beginning on, Chun is following her personal freedom, expression and creativity, not through culture, technique or style, but through the universal value of dance. This trust has brought her here and now. She is a movement explorer in life and arts. Her crisis has brought healing and somatic work to her. She is trained in Pilates and Laban Bartenieff movement studies, practices Qi Gong and meditation. Now, she is in a much steady and mature phase. Kai Strathmann has also explored his deeply embedded passion: music composition. They investigate for each creation total new working methods, compositional tasks and rules, and apply them to both music and movement, to express what they feel in the Now.