Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).

Dance

Ying E Ding

Choreographer, director, dancer and educator.

Calendar

Published: 12 Oct 2016


Time taken : >15mins

The Chinese artistic tradition is very deep-rooted and innovation may not be so easily accepted. But it is good to try a new approach and break out of the confines of tradition, even if it can be a painful thing

Ying E Ding is an acclaimed choreographer, director, dancer and educator known for his visually spectacular dance works that meld traditional forms with modern sensibilities. Trained at the Shanghai Academy of Dance, the Shanghai-born Ying first made his mark in Singapore at the Singapore Arts Festival in 1986. His next work in Singapore 《国殇》Guo Shang confirmed his reputation as a choreographer and he went on to create many well-received dance works for various dance companies in Singapore while working as a choreographer with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. In 1992, Ying received the Cultural Medallion for his contributions to dance in Singapore.

Born in 1947 in Shanghai, China, dancer-choreographer Ying E Ding was trained in Chinese folk dance and ballet, eventually earning the role of principal dancer at the Shanghai Academy of Dance in such large-scale dance dramas as 《白毛女》The White-Haired Girl and 《红色娘子军》The Red Detachment of Women.

Gaining experience from an extensive dance repertoire, Ying began to feel dissatisfied with merely being a dancer interpreting works that he felt were too simplistic. He began to try his hand at choreography, taking inspiration from forward-thinking Western choreographers such as George Balanchine and Pina Bausch, who would be great influences on Ying’s choreography career marked by a melding of traditional forms with modern sensibilities.

In 1977, Ying joined the Shanghai Song & Dance Ensemble as its principal dancer and choreographer. During his time there, he toured extensively with the ensemble to Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg and Switzerland. He used this wealth of dance experience and knowledge to create dance choreographies that drew from the visual impact of dance works he saw on his travels. He created works that were large in scale and visually spectacular such as 《牧马人之歌》The Song of the Herdsman and 《边寨猎归》Return from the Hunt, and as a result, received the Excellent Creative Award for his choregraphy work a total of five times in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982 and 1984 at the Shanghai Festival of Music and Dance.

Around this time, Ying also came to know the acclaimed choreographer Shu Qiao, who would become an important mentor and collaborator who guided and supported Ying’s development as a choreographer. Ying went on to become a guest choreographer for the Hong Kong Dance Company, collaborating with Shu Qiao to create dance works throughout the ’80s.

In 1986, Ying’s reputation had grown internationally and he was invited, together with Shu Qiao, to create two dance works for the Singapore Arts Festival. The result was 《长恨歌》The Song of Eternal Lament and 《睡莲》Slumbering Lily, which were greatly received by Singapore audiences. More significantly, it was during this trip that Ying discovered the growing and fertile dance scene in Singapore. He had many warm and sincere encounters with dancers in Singapore, and remembered this as a very enriching experience when he and Shu Qiao returned to Hong Kong.

Two years later, the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation invited Ying to join the corporation as a choreographer. Remembering his experience at the Singapore Arts Festival, Ying readily accepted the offer and moved to Singapore. This began a significant and fruitful association with the Singapore dance scene that would last till the end of the ’90s.

With the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, Ying choreographed for television variety shows, but it was the work he did with the various arts organisations in Singapore that he felt was most artistically rewarding. For him, his work with the corporation was entertainment, while his work outside was art. His first major dance production in Singapore since the Singapore Arts Festival, 《国殇》Guo Shang, was a stunning work that cemented his reputation as a choreographer, resulting in him becoming highly sought-after by many.

In 1991, Ying became a guest choreographer and instructor with the Theatre Arts Troupe, Singapore. The same year, he was also commissioned by Singapore Dance Theatre to create 《奔月》Moon Flight for the Singapore Festival of Dance.

From 1990 to 1996, Ying collaborated with Singapore multidisciplinary artist Tan Swie Hian for a number of productions which Tan’s poems and fables served as inspiration and important performance elements. Tan also served as set and costume designer for their collaborations, which included 《尘封》Concealed in Dust in 1990; 《古国思》Fantasy of Ancient China, 《大业》The Great Cause, and 《奔月》Moon Flight in 1991; 《两河》Two Rivers and 《两翅》Two Wings in 1992; and 《如此》Suchness in 1996.

Though Ying spent only six years in Singapore, his contribution to the Singapore dance scene was impactful and influential. In recognition of his efforts, Ying received the Cultural Medallion in 1992.

Ying began serving the Macau Arts Festival in 2000 as dance director. In 2005, Ying became the artistic director of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macau. He still continues to choreograph dance productions, recently focusing on producing modern dance works.

Timeline

1947

Born in Shanghai, China.

1960 to 1966

Attended Shanghai Academy of Dance, China. Trained in Chinese folk dance and ballet.

1966 to 1976

Principal dancer, Shanghai Academy of Dance, China. Performed in productions including 《白毛女》The White Hair Girl and 《红色娘子军》The Red Detachment of Women.

1977 to 1983

Principal dancer and choreographer, Shanghai Song & Dance Ensemble, China. Performed in ballet productions including 《丝路花雨》Along the Silk Road and 《闪闪红星》Sparkling Red Star. Choreographed ballet productions including 《牧马人之歌》The Song of the Herdsman, 《边寨猎归》Return from the Hunt, 《霸王之死》King’s Death.

1977

Received Excellent Creative Award, 上海之春 Shanghai Festival of Music and Dance, China.

1978

Received Excellent Creative Award, 上海之春 Shanghai Festival of Music and Dance, China.

1981

Received Excellent Creative Award, 上海之春 Shanghai Festival of Music and Dance, China.

1982

Received Excellent Creative Award, 上海之春 Shanghai Festival of Music and Dance, China.

1983 to 1987

Guest choreographer, Hong Kong Dance Company.

1983

Choreographed ballet production 《画皮》Painted Skin, Hong Kong Dance Company. Collaboration with Shu Qiao.

1984

Received Excellent Creative Award, 上海之春Shanghai Festival of Music and Dance, China.

1985

Choreographed ballet production 《玉卿嫂》 Yu Qing Sao.

1986

Choreographed 《长恨歌》The Song of Eternal Lament and 《睡莲》Slumbering Lily, Singapore Arts Festival. Collaborations with Shu Qiao. Commissioned by Singapore Arts Festival.

1987

Choreographed ballet production 《岳飞》Yue Fei, Hong Kong Dance Company. Collaboration with Shu Qiao.

Choreographed ballet production 《黄土地》Yellow Earth, Hong Kong Dance Company. Collaboration with Shu Qiao.

1988

Choreographed ballet production 《达赖六世情诗》Dalai VI Love Poems, Hong Kong Dance Company. Collaboration with Shu Qiao.

Moved to Singapore.

1988 to 1994

Choreographer, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.

1989

Choreographed 《国殇》Guo Shang, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.

1990

Choreographed 《尘封》Concealed in Dust, Oriental Dance Ensemble, Singapore. Costume and set design by Tan Swie Hian.

1991

Choreographed 《古国思》Fantasy of Ancient China, Hong Kong Dance Company, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Costume and set design by Tan Swie Hian.

Choreographed 《大业》The Great Cause, People’s Association, People’s Association Award Presentation Ceremony, Singapore. Costume and set design by Tan Swie Hian.

Choreographed 《奔月》Moon Flight, Singapore Dance Theatre, Singapore Festival of Dance, Singapore. Costume and set design by Tan Swie Hian.

1991

Guest choreographer and instructor, National Theatre Dance Company (now Theatre Arts Troupe), Singapore.

1992

Choreographed 《两河》Two Rivers, People’s Association, People’s Association Award Presentation Ceremony. Costume design, set design and poetry by Tan Swie Hian.

Choreographed 《两翅》Two Wings, ASEAN Artistes Creative Interaction, Bangkok Thailand. Costume design, set design and poetry by Tan Swie Hian.

1992

Received Cultural Medallion for contributions to dance in Singapore.

1994

Artistic Director, Hong Kong Dance Company

Choreographed ballet 《诱僧》You Seng, Hong Kong Dance Company, Hong Kong.

1995

Choreographed ballet 《女祭》Nu Ji, Hong Kong Dance Company, Hong Kong.

1996

Choreographed 《如此》Suchness, Hong Kong Dance Company, Singapore Arts Festival. Costume design, set design and fables by Tan Swie Hian.

1997

Choreographed ballet 《倩女幽魂》A Chinese Ghost Story.

1998

Presented 《如此》Suchness, Hong Kong Dance Company, National Arts Festival, China. Costume design, set design and fables by Tan Swie Hian.

1999

Choreographed 《深圳故事》, Shenzhen Dance Company, China.

2000 to 2005

Artistic director, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2000

Choreographed 《澳门新娘》Macau Bride, Macau. Comissioned by Cultural Affairs Bureau, Macau.

Choreographed ballet 《莫高窟印象》Impression of Dunhuang Caves, Escola de Danca
School of Dance, Macau.

2000 to 2013

Dance director and advisory committee member, Macau Arts Festival.

2001

Choreographed ballet 《海之吻》Kiss of the Sea, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2002

Choreographed ballet 《远去的孩子》The Child Gone Too Far, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2003

Guest choreographer, Carmina Burana, Shanghai Opera House, Ludwigsburg Arts Festival, Germany.

2004

Choreographed ballet 《二泉映月》The Moon Reflection on the Er-quan Spring, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2005

Artistic director, Cultural Affairs Bureau, Macau.

2006

Choreographed ballet 《童年的记忆》Childhood Memories, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

Choreographed ballet 《爱的符号》Symbol of Love, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2007

Choreographed ballet 《烟雨江南》The Misty Rain of Jiang Nan, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2008

Choreographed ballet 《单色》Monochrome, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2009

Presented ballet 《奔月》Moon Flight, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

Choreographed ballet 《波莱罗》Bolero, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.

2012

Choreographed ballet 《生命之歌》Song of Life, Escola de Danca School of Dance, Macau.


TributeSG

TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.

In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.

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