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Photos: 1, 5 © China Championdance 2009/2010; 2 © Konstanze Winkler; 3, 4 © Andrè Elbing
Graphic and layout: Konstanze Winkler
Interview with the Chinese
belly dance superstar
Guo Wei

by Marcel Bieger

interpreter: Yingchun Ding

Whoever has been on a belly dance tour or mission in China has stumbled over the name of Guo Wei. In his home country Guo Wei is famed as a super star, and he combines traditional Chinese dances with Middle Eastern dances in a fascinating fashion. He has created his own art, which sends the audience into awesome. Guo Wei owns two dance studios (one in Beijing and one in Shanghai), with a thousand students each.
In this year he will perform for the third time in a row at the Oriental Festival of Leyla and Roland Jouvana in Duisburg, Germany, also he will be sitting in the jury for the contest again and will hold his famous work shops with many intricacies from the dance art of the Middle Kingdom. This time we can even marvel at his tribal fusion skills. We may expect a lot …

In Chinese you have the last name coming before the first name, and it meets the need of politeness to always speak of a person with mentioning his title. That is why the interpreter never fails to speak of “Mister Guo”. By the way, Mister Yao is not only the manager of Mister Guo but also his cousin.

And before we start I would like to express my deep felt thanks to Miss Yingchun Ding for her marvellous help.

Interview in the wardrobe: Marcel Bieger, Guo Wei and Yingchun Ding
We saw you in the show in several performances. With ribbons, with cloths, alone and with dancers, but mostly we saw much unusal dance. Where do these dances root?

The long silk ribbons are from old China and the dance that goes with it is very old and has a very long tradition – it is more than 2.000 years old. To be more precisely, it dates back to the imperial Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) and to the imperial Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), and it was performed at court to please the emperor. At those times they had skilled female dancers who danced only for the emperor. And they also had male dancers, but their dances and costumes differed from those of the females. For instance the males had longer sleeves. The long ribbons you have seen were only provided for women. In his performance Mister Guo wanted to show us the beauty of these silk ribbon dances.
Guo Wei and his ensemble with a silk ribbon dance
Why only dances from the Han and the Tang dynasties, there have been many other dynasties in Imperial China

Every dynasty had its own capital. China is a big country, and when a house in the North founded a new dynasty, it designated a city in the North as its capital. And when a house in the South came to power it choose its capital in the South. Han and Tang were both sited in the same region, in Hunan. At court they hat mostly dancers from the region to distract the emperor.

Since China has such a rich dance tradition and art, why did Mister Guo turn to belly dance?

In the whole Far East belly dance and all sorts of Oriental dances are very much en vogue. Mister Guo is also attracted to other dances and always strives to combine them with elements from old Chinese dances. That’s his brand of fusion. His dances at the Oriental Festivals of Europe contained quite a few Chinese elements. Mister Guo calls this Fusion “Sino Style”, and this he showed already in the USA, in Mexico, Egypt, Korea, China and Germany with great success.

How did Mister Guo find his way to belly dance?

That was more or less coincidence. A French friend of him invited him to a party, were also Turkish dancers were present, who performed belly dances. The unknown moves fascinated Mister Guo immediately. To that time belly dance was unheard of in China. Mister Guo decided to learn this wondrous dance and planned to introduce belly dance in his home country and show belly dance to his fellow Chinese. The Turkish dancers were no teachers, and so Mister Guo learned these dances by himself and went also to Egypt and the USA to learn there too. He is still learning and still attends at work shops because the art of dance never stands still, but is developing continuously. Furthermore he loves to become inspired by other dancers and shows. That is very important to him, because one can never say, now I know enough, now I’m finished.

Guo Wei at last year's Orient. Festival Europe in Duisburg