By Qingwei Vivian Chen
Jackie Chan’s LongYun Kung Fu Troupe came to Chicago to usher in the year of the monkey with modern dance that draws on the traditions of Kung Fu, ballet and drama. This is the troupe’s second performance in North America and their first time in the Midwest.
LongYun Kung Fu Troupe performed “11 Warriors” at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago this week. The performance covers “Five chapters: Source, Soul, Master, Softness, Celebration and Fighters” to interpret the origin, spirit, artists, tenderness and essence of Kung Fu. The final performance is on Saturday. Information about the troupe and the Saturday performance can be found on The Chinese Fine Arts Society website.
“From its primeval origins to its refined precision and technical mastery, ’11 Warriors’ takes the audience on a journey through both the physical and spiritual development of a Kung Fu master. Informed by ancient Chinese philosophy, art and aesthetics, the program demonstrates Kung Fu’s connection to the underlying tenets of Chinese culture,” explains the dance program.
Handpicking by international martial art star and Hollywood legend Jackie Chan, the LongYun Troupe was officially founded in 2006. “Some of us were just 11 when we were chosen, in the past nine years, we have lived, studied, and trained together to create a stunning new art form,” said Mingwu Hu, who heads the troupe and also coaches and choreographs the dances.
“I am delighted that the Chinese Fine Arts Society has arranged to bring my vision of contemporary Kung Fu to the great city of Chicago. And I am excited that a broad audience will have the chance to see the strength, agility and artistic depth of our new show ’11 Warriors’,” Jackie Chan said in in a written statement.
In Chinese culture, Kung Fu goes beyond martial arts and literally means to pursue mastery, with the objective of perfecting personal “being” to the utmost.
“We have brought our Kung Fu performance to many different counties around the world, but we keep trying and incorporating elements from different disciplines into our martial arts,” said Hu. “Everyone in our group is contributing their new ideas,” he added.
Unlike other performances with martial artists, acrobatic artists and dancers in the show, Hu said all the artists in the troupe learn Kung Fu, traditional dance and music, and also ballet to perfectly combine all of these art elements. Their unique style of incorporating martial arts and dance forms is called Xin Wu Lin, which means “new martial arts.”
“’11 Warriors’ is real Chinese Kung Fu that not only inherits tradition, but also innovation,” said Zhitao Pan, dance professor at the Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing.
“Anyone who goes to any Chinese cultural performances will recognize the beautiful long sleeves that you typically see on beautiful women, buts these guys re-appropriate them, combined with Kung Fu and make this a completely different art form,” said Julie Ma, president of the Chinese Fine Arts Society in Chicago. The mix of people in the audience marks a wonderful success, she said. “For us, we are not only interested in promoting Chinese culture to Chinese people, we are interested in sharing our culture with western audience too.”