Students reflect on China in IDS article

Indiana Daily Student is IU’s student-run newspaper.

Dance served as a way for IU students to share culture and to understand their Chinese counterparts’ lived experiences.

Professor and director of the African American Dance Company Iris Rosa is strict about how her dancers wear their hair. Black-, white- and short-haired dancers alike get their hair braided in cornrows.

So when the dance company traveled to Beijing during winter break to explore China and perform and dance with students from the China University of Mining and Technology Beijing, one dancer from the AADC sat with some of the Chinese students and cornrowed their hair.

“That was such a beautiful moment of a cross-cultural experience,” Rosa said.

The AADC spent nearly a week in China from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23. This was the company’s first time abroad as a group in Rosa’s 43 years directing the them.

“To see my students actually perform in China at formal concert and the way they were accepted and to hear the applause was really very exciting,” Rosa said.

A visiting scholar, Yingli Zhou, who saw Rosa’s group dance last spring, was instrumental in organizing the trip. Rosa said she was very excited about what they were doing. Zhou helped with the orientation sessions by letting the dancers know about culture, history and other travel-related issues.

Rosa taught a master class for all the students, and the AADC students participated in a traditional Chinese dance class.

“When you talk about dance, dance is a discipline that cultures have been doing for years,” Rosa said. “I think that these Chinese students somehow can relate to not only their own type of traditional movement but are very accepting of other type of movement. They know about hip-hop, contemporary dance and different styles, so this just put it into practice ”

The AADC dancers were matched with students from the Chinese university to be shown around Beijing. Amelia Smith, an associate director for the AADC who also performs with the group, was with Parhatjan, a 20-year-old student from a northwestern province of China.

Smith said, as an older student, she was apprehensive about having a young partner.

However, one night she and Parhatjan were out together walking down a hallway and passed a group of people. She said Parhatjan told her when people look at him and her, the people think they are both foreigners. She said this is because Parhatjan is from a Chinese minority group and Chinese was not his first language.

Smith said she was grateful to have a partner who gave her such insight into his life.

“I really had very stereotypical perceptions of what it meant to be Chinese,” Smith said. “China is a huge country, not unlike the United States. The U.S. differs in the sense that we are also represented by a multitude of races and ethnicities, but China is similarly complicated in that way on a different scale.”

Read the rest of the article on the IDS website.

AADC featured in Inside IU Bloomington

Inside IU Bloomington is a web publication sharing news with IU faculty, staff, and alumni.

While most IU students were heading home for winter break, students in IU’s African American Dance Company were boarding a 13-hour flight to Beijing.

The 14 students and four IU faculty engaged in a weeklong cultural exchange with the School of Law and Humanities at China University of Mining and Technology Beijing.

Among the week’s activities was a lecture demonstration for Chinese students and faculty, an African drum workshop for Chinese students, and a traditional Chinese dance class for the IU students. The IU group also visited the Forbidden City and Great Wall of China.

About 400 people attended a culminating concert performance featuring the African American Dance Company and China University of Mining and Technology Beijing dancers.

“Our concert was the true definition of cultural exchange,” said IU junior and theater major Ryan Malone. “We brought a new style and culture to hundreds of people in China who likely had never heard of or experienced an African-American aesthetic.”

Read the rest of the article here.

(center, from left) Andre Rosa-Artis, Professor Iris Rosa, Dr. Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Dr. Charles Sykes, and the IU African American Dance Company after their performance at the China University of Mining and Technology Beijing on December 21, 2016.

“Would I do it again? Yep!” Professor Rosa reflects on China

Professor Rosa (center) with the African American Dance Company in the CUMTB dance studio in Beijing.

How time flies! AADC has been back more than a week already from our unprecedented trip to China. I have so many things to say, but it would probably take most of the blog. What I have learned from the moment that we were asked to represent our units during this remarkable trip is that perseverance and trust in the process is key. The idea began with an invitation from Prof. Yingli Zhou, a visiting scholar in AAADS from the China University of Mining and Technology Beijing (CUMTB). She and Dr. Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Chair of African American and African Diaspora Studies, traveled to China in June to propose an intercultural exchange. Upon bringing back great news, we began preparations to make this trip a reality.

Professor Rosa presented Qianqian Dong with a thank-you gift for her dedication to AADC.

The thirteen-hour flight to China was suddenly a distant memory when we encountered a group of CUMTB students waiting patiently for our arrival. Qianqian Dong, AADC alumna and IU graduate student, had paired AADC and CUMTB students to facilitate the stay in Beijing. Little do people know the work it took for her to help coordinate our itinerary!

Dance is powerful, strong, and revolutionary. Although CUMTB is not focused on the arts, dance was a vehicle to bridge so many differences in culture and language. From the moment AADC took the stage during the lecture demonstration, our Chinese counterparts were immediately engaged in the progressions and protocol of a dance class. The “moving sculpture” broke the ice as both AADC and CUMTB students gathered in their groups to experience the free flowing movement. The link between students was established and then strengthened as the week progressed.

Professor Rosa taught a dance class for CUMTB students. For many, it was their first exposure to an African dance aesthetic and lesson on the African diaspora in dance and music.

Partaking in a joint dance class with CUMTB students and learning a traditional Chinese dance were activities that bolstered connections between human beings sharing meaningful expressions. CUMTB students attended Andre Rosa-Artis’ djembe lecture demonstration and history lesson of the drum. I hope that both AADC and CUMTB students learned that the drum is just not an instrument of accompaniment, but also is an integral part of African and diaspora history.

I couldn’t wait for the shopping experience! Some went to the mall and others took the train to downtown Beijing to experience what cool fashion and handmade items were available. It was really fun to go to a local store and market to actually understand and gain knowledge of customary interactions of and by locals. The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square captivated our attention in many social, political, and cultural norms that were intertwined in history, both ancient and contemporary. The Great Wall of China was one wonder of the world that had a profound impression on me. Although I did not climb it due to not feeling well, the space surrounding me provoked visions of ancient times.

AADC performed on the CUMTB stage for an audience of about 300 people.

AADC’s formal concert performance at CUMTB made the biggest impact during our time in Beijing. Even though there were challenges with the stage area, the audience only saw the dances that AADC delivered through their movement and expression. What we may have thought did not get across as our message was loudly heard in its silence. CUMTB students were so proud to also perform their cultural dances at the concert. It was an honor to be selected and share our work half way across the world.

On our last day, all of the Chinese partners came to the hotel to bid us “goodbye.” Many tears and exchanges of little presents took place. The thirteen-hour flight to Chicago was overshadowed by all the memories of the week that sailed so rapidly. I came home with a viral infection, but it is almost gone now. This time at home has helped me reflect on the trip and plan the “AADC China brownbag talk” for next semester.

Posing at the IU China Gateway office.

Would I do it again? Yep! There is just so much more to learn.

Iris Rosa
Director, African American Dance Company
Professor, African American and African Diaspora Studies

For IU students, Chinese partners “made the trip”

Savasia (center) with her Chinese partner Fan Yun (left)

Meeting my partner Fan Yun was life altering. He expressed very sensitive topics to me and helped me understand just a piece of his life. We learned that we are both very open-minded and aware that we completely express the emotions that we feel. Although we live very different lives, we still connected with one another—and that is why it was so hard to leave. I was very emotional when leaving China because I knew how some of the students could not express themselves fully due to their culture. It truly saddens me that some people do not have full control over their happiness. But I enjoyed every minute of China, and I cannot wait to go back.

Savasia, Junior, Fashion Design

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A number of Chinese students lined up to have their hair braided by Kim. Braiding was a new sensation (and a bit painful) for the students, but they marveled at Kim’s technique.

What an amazing first trip to China! It gives me great joy to know that the China students were just as excited to experience American cultural as we were to experience Chinese culture. I thought to myself, “How can they appreciate arts and culture as a force for good?” I was striving to be enriched, while seeking to reach out, touch, communicate, and bring the students together to experience the African diaspora. I had an “ah-ha” moment. I could braid their hair as a cultural exchange. The CUMTB students wanted to experience hair braiding. I gave them a history lesson on braids. I told them, “Hairstyles come and go, but braided hair is an ancient beauty technique, with a long and literally winding history that roams across countries, cultures, and centuries. In modern times, hairstyles aren’t so serious but one thing hasn’t changed: braids are cool.” I put one braid in each one of the students’ hair. They felt a little tenderness, pain, and tightness in the braid. But as time went on they became accustomed to the braid. They kept it the next day. They stated that the other students loved it, and they wanted a braid too. What a great exchange!

Kim, Associate Director, IU Community and School Partnerships

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Grace (right) with her CUMTB partner, HJ (left)

My partner HJ was the best partner I could have had. I was worried that she would be shy, but she was the opposite. The day the students took us shopping was crazy, but HJ made sure that everyone was keeping up and was leading the way. She’s an English major, so her English speaking was really impressive. She helped translate some for me and the other students. Her personality is very inspiring to me, especially with her leadership skills. Her dancing abilities were off the charts as well. She had a strong presence, and I felt like her and I meshed well. I told her one day that I found her to be a “boss.” She didn’t really understand, but I explained that she was someone that got her work done and did it well. It was sad when AADC had to leave. I just wanted to take HJ back with me to the U.S. I honestly feel honored that she was my partner during the cultural exchange.

Grace, Senior, Communications and Culture

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Jalyn with her Chinese friends Xia Xue (left), “Swaggy” (top right), and Andrea (bottom right).

My Chinese partner, Xia Xue, was not feeling too well the week we were in Beijing, so unfortunately she did not make it to many of the events with the other CUMTB students. I got to spend a little bit of time with her on Sunday after our lecture demonstration. We took the subway to a traditional Chinese market. She and one of her friends, Gloria, walked around with me to see the many souvenir and antique shops there. However, we were only able to connect via WeChat from that point on. For the rest of the trip, I mingled with some of the other dancers’ partners. I really connected with a girl who introduced herself as Andrea and Savasia’s partner, whom we all ended up calling “Swaggy.” I was able to learn a lot about the Chinese culture and CUMTB from them. They were also both just so sweet and open to discussing their lives and cultural experiences, which is why I think I enjoyed talking to them so much. My experience in China honestly wouldn’t have been nearly the same without them. Developing those friendships really helped me engage and immerse myself in the Chinese culture. They took me in, made me feel welcome, and almost like I was one of them. I never felt like a tourist or stranger when I was around them. I’m still shocked by how quickly I was able to bond with some of the students from CUMTB. I actually cried when it came to go. I am really going to miss them. Hopefully this is not the end of our cultural exchange. I really want them to be able to travel to the U.S. and gain exposure to our culture. I would love to have an opportunity to host them at IU!

Jalyn, Freshman, Human Biology

Allison (center) with Crystal (left) and Jason (right)
Allison (center) with Crystal (left) and Jason (right)

I had two partners in China, Crystal and Jason. I met Crystal first when she welcomed me at the airport. Crystal was shy from the beginning, and we struggled to communicate. I spoke too quickly and talked about things she didn’t understand. I met Jason when we arrived at the hotel. I quickly realized he was outgoing and spoke more English. He was the president of the dance group, so that explained his personality. Both of my partners we very nice. Crystal just loved to be around me. We took a ton of selfies and mostly talked about school or dance. Jason was known by the whole group and was easy to get along with. I loved getting to know my partners and learning more about China through our conversations.

Allison, Junior, Animal Behavior

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Ryan (left) and his partner Zhang (right)

This trip would not have been the same if I hadn’t met my CUMTB partner Zhang, or as he’s known by his English name, Bob. While we didn’t get to spend much time together, all of the times we did were wonderful. Whether it was hanging out at karaoke, learning how to play Mahjong, or discussing culture on the way to McDonald’s, Bob knew how to have a good time wherever he went. He’s genuinely a fun and funny guy! His present to me was a tile with a wanted poster of his favorite TV character he had designed. Knowing how much work he put into it and how much it meant to him makes it that much more valuable, and I will cherish it forever. Hopefully he enjoyed our time together and my present to him just as much!

Ryan, Junior, Theatre

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Ella (left) with her Chinese partner, Jingyao (right)

The first time I met Jingyao, she was super bubbly and excited to meet all the dancers. She came up to me after the lecture demonstration and wanted to take lots of pictures. Later that day she and some of her friends took us to the mall and then to a traditional Chinese street market. We went on the subway, and she held me by the arm the whole way so I wouldn’t get lost! She seemed so happy to show us around Beijing. Then at the tea ceremony she gave me a beautiful traditional purse, and we talked a lot about Chinese and American culture. It was so great to meet her and spend time with her. I will miss her so much!

Ella, Freshman, Neuroscience

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AnnaRose (left) with one of her new Chinese friends

Having CUMTB student partners transformed our experience as a group. In my past experiences traveling with a group of people, our primary mode of processing our experiences was with the group. This would normally mean our interpretations were more insular or processed with an outsider’s perspective. On this trip, our primary mode of processing was with the Chinese students. This helped me process all these differences more immediately with a local person my age. It’s a lot harder to be uncomfortable in differences when you experience them through a local’s eyes. When the dance company did get moments to process together, we were mainly sharing stories that students had shared with us. From here on out, I think I might try to find someone to be my language/cultural partner if I travel. It’s so much better to travel not only to new places, but also to new people.

AnnaRose, Second-year master’s student, Human Computer Interaction Design

Camille's partner, Jason, participating in a dance class with AADC.
Camille’s partner, Jason, participated in a dance class with AADC.

The CUMTB students are absolutely amazing. They are all so attentive and willing to learn about social and political issues in the United States. Even though some words and phrases we used they didn’t know in English, they were patient enough to allow us to explain, and if that didn’t work, they were ready with a translator. I am especially thankful to be able to be paired up with Jason. He is an incredible person who is really kind and dedicated to his school work, which I admire so much. Although it was sometimes difficult to communicate, he made it work, and I’m so grateful for that because I would have been lost without him.

Camille, Junior, Sociology and African American and African Diaspora Studies

Saying goodbye to Beijing, staying connected to friends

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CUMTB and AADC students said their goodbyes. They met in the hotel lobby to exchange gifts and take photos before AADC boarded the bus to the airport. Many of the Chinese students wore the IU t-shirts AADC had given them the night before.

The last day was very emotional. The night before we had gone out on the town to experience some nightlife with our newfound Chinese friends, so I had slept in a little later than usual. I woke up around 10 a.m., took a shower, and then started to pack—of course having more things than I had arrived with. I then went downstairs where all of our Chinese friends were waiting and exchanging gifts with their American counterparts. I saw some people tearing up and knew I was on the verge of the same. Even though I wanted to stay a little longer with my new friends, I knew it was time to go. We then embarked on a 12-hour flight, 5-hour bus ride, and then I finally arrived in Bloomington at 1 a.m. I found it very hard to sleep with the time change and all.

I am very appreciative of this opportunity I was given. It is easily the most memorable thing that has ever happened in my life. I hope to experience even more things like this down the road. But until then, I have my memories of China and my unforgettable trip to Beijing.

Mikaela, Freshman, Musical Theatre

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CUMTB and AADC students use WeChat, a popular platform in China, to stay connect. They continue to share photos and memories from their week together.

Day 5 – Climbing the Great Wall and celebrating new friendships

AADC’s last full day in Beijing was sunny and smog-free—the perfect day for exploring the Great Wall of China. After an hour bus ride from the hotel at CUMTB, AADC arrived at the Great Wall around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 22.
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AADC proudly held the Indiana University banner atop the Great Wall of China. Naturally, the students attracted an audience and several people “photo bombed” the shot.

What do dancers do when they visit the Great Wall of China?

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Following the Great Wall, AADC visited the IU China Gateway office. Steven Yin, IU China Gateway office manager, greeted the students and talked about the gateway’s mission and work. Yin had attended the dance company’s performance the night before, so AADC was grateful for the chance to visit him and the IU China Gateway.
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The IU China Gateway, as Steven Yin explained, is a Hoosier’s home in China. AADC felt welcomed and supported throughout their time in Beijing, with the help of the IU China Gateway.

On our final evening, Ms. Yingli arranged for us to attend a tea ceremony and farewell dinner with our Chinese student partners. The tea ceremony itself was mesmerizing. The woman who performed the demonstration flourished her hands over the pots and cups as she described the process of making and serving tea. The entire ceremony was in Chinese, so although I’m not sure of her explanations, her elegant, stylized hand movements turned tea into art.

We then had the opportunity to just hang out with our partners—something we haven’t had a lot of time to do on such a busy trip. I sat with a few other dance company members as we tried our best to answer our Chinese friends’ questions about U.S. politics, history, and culture. Their questions were difficult to answer as I was struck by the complexity of the events, phenomenon, and the social structure of our daily lives.

I wasn’t prepared to explain what it’s like to be an American and have to synthesize all of these aspects of my life that I take for granted. I also felt that I had to reorient the way that I think about these facets of my life so that they could be accessible to students who don’t know a ton about what the U.S. is really like and are not native English speakers. I was challenged by their poignant questions and the ways in which they related our various American experiences to their own diverse Chinese experiences. The parallels and dissimilarities made for a very interesting and insightful evening. I’m so thankful to have had the chance to sit down and both listen and talk to these thoughtful and receptive students.

Amelia, first-year Ph.D. student, African American and African Diaspora Studies

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AADC and CUMTB celebrated their last night together at a teahouse in Beijing. Teahouses are popular spots for socializing and parties (especially because many teahouses are open until 6 a.m.!).
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AADC students gave thank-you gifts to their CUMTB friends, including IU gear. The Chinese students were excited to don the IU swag.
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The night’s activities at the teahouse included a tea ceremony. The students watched the intricate ritual of preparing and pouring Chinese tea.
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The IU and CUMTB students spent the rest of the night at the teahouse playing Mahjong, a popular Chinese board game, and engaging in conversations about life, culture, art, and even a little politics.

Day 4 – Dance concert unites American and Chinese art and culture

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The dance company’s fourth day in Beijing was dedicated to preparing for their concert performance at the China University of Mining and Technology Beijing (CUMTB). Even with jet lag and smoggy air, the dancers rehearsed for hours. Professor Iris Rosa directed the dancers, setting her work on the unfamiliar stage.
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Performance nerves kicked in as the dancers prepared their hair, makeup, and costumes for the approaching show. The concert was held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, on the CUMTB campus.
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AADC performed four pieces, including two choreographed by students and two choreographed by Professor Rosa. Rosa’s piece titled “A Change is Going to Come” featured IU graduate student Qianqian Dong, who played an instrumental role in the planning and execution of the dance company’s trip to Beijing. The piece illustrated a connection between Chinese culture and the African diaspora.
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AADC performed Professor Rosa’s piece titled “Anatomy of Freedom,” which included live drumming, poetry, and a variety of dance forms. A banner with the words “Chinese and American Arts and Culture Exchange Concert,” in both English and Mandarin, hung above the dancers.

Words cannot express my emotions at this moment. We had our show today, and it was a massive success. It was clear by the audience’s initial reaction to my collaboration piece with Camille and Jalyn that they had never seen anything like AADC before. I don’t think they had any idea what to make of it. But after they had time to understand what they were seeing, they were loving it. The thunderous applause when we finished our final piece spoke volumes to what we had done. We brought a new style and culture to hundreds of people in China who likely have never heard of or experienced an African-American aesthetic. Our concert was the true definition of cultural exchange.

Ryan, Junior, Theatre

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AADC originally performed “Anatomy of Freedom” at the Potpourri of the Arts concert in November at the IU Auditorium. It was a special opportunity to share the piece with a Chinese audience on the CUMTB stage in Beijing.
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Andre Rosa-Artis accompanied the dancers with the Djembe. The drumming brought energy to the stage, and the audience responded with cheers and applause.
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AADC shared the stage with CUMTB dancers who performed a variety of Chinese dance forms.
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After the show, AADC and CUMTB dancers congratulated one another for a successful performance. They shared many hugs and photos.
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Indiana University and China University of Mining and Technology Beijing come together for a celebration of art and culture. It is the beginning of a fruitful partnership.

Today was concert day! This was the highlight event of our trip, so I was excited all day. During rehearsal I was nervous that the show would not be as impactful as our performance in the Potpourri of the Arts concert. Our stage was carpeted and the open window near the stage allowed an icy breeze to flow backstage. I thought our muscles would be too stiff for dancing, and I thought the carpet would prevent smooth dancing.

But the show was wonderful!

The energy was high, and no one was bothered by the carpet or air. I felt so good dancing. The audience was encouraging and I could feel their love. They clapped so often, and I loved their support. In the U.S., the audience usually waits until the end of the piece or show to clap. But here in China, our audience clapped after certain groups, or for certain dance techniques, and were especially responsive to the live drumming.

They were so impressed, and I’m pleased that they enjoyed the show. I loved the celebration and union between AADC and the CUMTB students. All the hugs, smiles, and photos were sincere. This was truly a day I will never forget.

Allison, Junior, Animal Behavior

Day 3 – Touring the Forbidden City and tasting Peking duck

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AADC students, Professor Rosa, Dr. Calloway-Thomas, Dr. Sykes, and Yingli Zhou visited the Forbidden City, one of China’s most famous historical treasures.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912. It covers more than 180 acres and includes 9,999 rooms.
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The students attracted countless curious people and were often asked to take photos throughout the tour.

Today was definitely something to remember. We saw things that we only read about in textbooks and see in movies, but we never think we’ll actually be able to see them and experience them in real life. Never did I think I would be in China visiting the Forbidden City.

Not only that, but the people here are amazing. In the United States, there seems to be this sense of rejection when being exposed to people who are different than you. Here, people look at our differences with curiosity and acceptance. They want to understand us. I think this is something we should take home with us. Also Lulu, our tour guide, was so incredibly generous to us all.

Camille, Junior, Sociology and African American and African Diaspora Studies

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Lulu, a Beijing native and the group’s tour guide, offered historical context to the site seeing. She also shared personal stories giving the group a richer understanding of Chinese life and culture.
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Inspired by the beauty of the Forbidden City, AADC students decided to perform the traditional Chinese dance moves they had learned in class at CUMTB. Again, they attracted a curious audience with smartphones in hand.
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Peking duck for lunch was a delicious reward after a long day of site seeing and walking around Beijing. The students practiced their chopstick skills and learned how to properly eat the Peking duck rolled in rice paper.

Traveling around the city this morning was breathtaking. Even the smog had a charm to it because it seemed to cloak all the buildings with some sort of mystery. They already look so different, and it’s fascinating how they fade in and out of view. It could also look sort of post-apocalyptic. But with everyone driving around on bicycles, it’s charming.

I could have stayed in the Forbidden City all day. I might have been one wrong turn away from accidentally doing that because the city was so much larger than it let on at first. Every corner was ornate and patterned. Several of us wished we could stay there and do some sort of fashion photo shoot! We felt imperial just being there.

The food! I’ve just been so amazed by the spices and flavors here. I’m trying everything. Today I tried Peking duck (amazing), a green tea paste with bean paste (yum), a dessert shortbread stuffed with purple potato paste (yummier). A $120 black tea (please hide my wallet from me). And dumplings are sort of brilliant for the morning—grab and go steamed bread with veggies and meat inside. I want to make my own version of that when I get home.

Today was amazing, but I sort of missed our Chinese student friends. They add so much value and excitement to exploring. After today I have so many more questions for them. What is their favorite dessert? What do they think of these sites? How do they reflect on their history?

AnnaRose, second-year master’s student, Human Computer Interaction Design

Day 2 – sharing African diasporic dance and music, learning Chinese traditions

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AADC began their day with a much-needed warm up and stretch. Travel and jet lag have been a challenge for many of the students. Professor Rosa led the company through a series of exercises before rehearsal.
The dancers rehearsed for their concert performance, which will be held Wednesday, December 21 on the CUMTB campus. They will be showing “Anatomy of Freedom,” Professor Rosa’s choreographic work from fall semester that the company performed at the Potpourri of the Arts concert.

Today was a big reflection day. Dance was the main theme, and it didn’t disappoint. First was Professor Rosa’s class. It was interesting to see the Chinese students uncomfortable at first. They loosened up after a little while and some were picking up the moves quickly. Professor Rosa definitely did not go easy on them because by the end I was sweating a ton! During the class, she split us into groups with the Chinese students. We collaborated and created a dance routine that combined all the different types of dance we had to offer. Something that surprised me was one of our Chinese partners wanted to add the “moving sculpture” into our routine—an exercise where we improvise and move through the negative spaces within the group. We had performed this at the lecture demonstration, so this must have been something significant to him. Our routine and the class was a success. The students were laughing, smiling, and exhausted—in a good way! I hope they enjoyed the different movements. I loved that even though some were uncomfortable with the movements, and language was a barrier at times, they still kept going.

I’m really thankful and grateful every day for the opportunities and lessons I have learned not only from AADC, but also from the arts in general. I never thought I would have an opportunity to visit Beijing. It makes me sad that I will not be in the dance company after this trip because of graduation. I feel like I have only touched on the lessons and things I need to learn through the African diaspora. I have changed so much since I joined AADC last semester. I feel more love for dance, communication, and people. Professor Rosa has opened so many doors for me. The dance company is inspiring, and it has helped me open my eyes to other cultures.

Grace, Senior, Communications and Culture

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Professor Iris Rosa led a dance workshop for China University of Mining and Technology Beijing (CUMTB) students. AADC students helped demonstrate movements and interacted with the Chinese students.
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During the dance workshop, Professor Rosa divided the room into collaboration groups of Chinese and AADC students. The students worked together to choreograph a short routine (set to Reggaeton music) which they performed for their peers at the end of class.
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The IU and CUMTB students shared many laughs, smiles, and selfies.

Wow…It was wonderful to see how music can bring people together. All of our differences seemed to slip away while learning the vast amount of history and culture surrounded by the Djembe. Who would have thought there was so much to learn.

Jaylen, Freshman, Biochemistry

I had an awesome time teaching and sharing the Djembe with the students here in China. It’s an honor to share my culture with people who are so enriched by culture already. The students accepted and grasped the history respectfully and with full strength. They marveled at the fact that everyone has a percussion instrument in the human body. I look forward to connecting with students again via email and social media, and to learn more about the culture here in China. Thank you for this opportunity!

Andre Rosa-Artis, master drummer and teacher

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Andre Rosa-Artis taught a drum workshop to CUMTB and AADC students. Even though the students didn’t have drums, Rosa-Artis explained that everyone already has a percussive instrument—their bodies. He led the students through different Djembe rhythms using their hands.

Firstly, it was interesting to observe the inversion of student experiences. Earlier we were in a class taught in English translated into Chinese, then inverted to a Chinese class translated into English.

We began the class by discussing the dance history and its origins. As we sat on the ground, we were introduced to the hand posture. I found that this particular dance was very detailed, delicate, precise, and deeply rooted in the dancers breathing pattern. The feminine hand was gentle and resembled the orchid flower. At some point of the workshop she described the female hand position as being delicate enough to hold an egg. Contrary, the male hand position was strong and stiff. The fingers are hyper extended and the thumb separated.

Each movement phrase is dictated by the breath. Inhales and exhales initiate the movements and are pretty much choreographed into the pieces. The hardest part was the gap in verbal communication. It was difficult to tell where a new choreography was appended or whether she was explaining something else. In the end, it was a great experience, and we have new movements to add to our movement vocabulary.

Kelvin, M.F.A., Photography

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A Chinese folkloric dance instructor taught the AADC and CUMTB students a variety of traditional Chinese dances. All of the dances included intricate hand gestures and postures which were challenging, but enjoyable for the AADC students to learn.
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Kelvin sketched the hand gestures and body positions he had learned in the Chinese dance class.
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The CUMTB and IU students smiled and posed for countless pictures after a long day of dancing and learning about each others’ cultures and histories.

Day 1 – Lecture demonstration and shopping adventures

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AADC’s first performance of the week was a lecture demonstration held in the Min Zu building on the China University of Mining and Technology Beijing (CUMTB) campus. The students stayed in a campus hotel, just one block from this building, for the duration of the visit.
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During the lecture demonstration, AADC dancers performed warm-up exercises and choreography. Professor Iris Rosa structured the performance to demonstrate for the CUMTB audience what a typical AADC company class is like.
Director Iris Rosa led the dancers through the lecture demonstration explaining the significance of each movement to the CUMTB students.
Director Rosa led the dancers through the lecture demonstration explaining the significance of each movement to the CUMTB audience.
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The “moving sculpture” is always a crowd favorite. Audience members joined the dance company in the exercise and explored creating different shapes in the space.
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Each AADC student was paired up with a CUMTB student for the week. Their new Chinese friends were excited to engage in the lecture demonstration.
AADC dancers performed their student choreographic pieces that they created during fall semester at IU. Students select their own music, costumes, movements, and concept for this project.
AADC dancers performed their student choreographic pieces created during fall semester at IU. Students selected their own music, costumes, movements, and concept for the project.

Participating in the lecture demonstration was an adaptive experience. We felt as if the Chinese students enjoyed watching us demonstrate our warm-up and choreographic pieces. Doing the moving sculpture with the Chinese students was exciting because many of the students wanted to be involved and move with us. Performing our collaboration was invigorating because we were able to share what we created with the students, and they enjoyed watching our pieces and interpreting their own meaning.

Savasia, Junior, Fashion Design

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IU and CUMTB students explored the streets of Beijing. The Chinese students were enthusiastic tour guides, happy to share their lifestyles, hobbies, fashion, and culture with their new American friends.
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The students took a special trip to visit the Olympic Stadium. There, the IU and CUMTB students put on a spontaneous dance performance that attracted many passersby.
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The sun set on the IU students’ first day in Beijing. The heavy smog is a constant reminder of the hazardous levels of pollution in the city. The IU students took precautions by wearing masks over their noses and mouths.

Being in Beijing thus far has been an outstanding adventure, from the different foods that we tasted to the shopping we experienced. Today a group of us went with our Chinese partners to do a little shopping.

Our first stop was the mall. Some stores there were very similar to stores that are in the U.S., but of course their names are different. I am a lipstick fanatic, so I was definitely looking for a Chinese lipstick. But I quickly noticed that most of their makeup brands are the same as what we have in the U.S. This surprised me because I didn’t think they would embrace so much from the U.S. Another thing that I noticed was that things are inexpensive here, meaning USD is more valuable. I know this now because after the mall we all took the subway—which was a fantastic experience—and went to the Olympic Park (where the Olympics were held in 2008). I went to a gift shop there and spent a total of 256 RMB, which is equivalent to about 38 USD. With that amount of money I bought 4 bags, 3 lipstick holders, 3 small mirrors, a Chinese plate, a key chain, a small Chinese bottle, and a Chinese pen, which I thought was absolutely amazing. You cannot beat that.

Today was great, and I had a great time with the Chinese students. They are so caring and are always making sure that we are having a good time, which I appreciate very much. I am so grateful to be able to come on this trip and have this opportunity. Thank you AADC and OVPDEMA for this incredible experience!

Lauren, Senior, Health Administration