Ying E Ding



Ying E Ding (b. 1947, Shanghai, China–),1 is a dancer and choreographer. He is known for his large-scale dance dramas and innovative approach to Chinese dance. Ying is a much sought-after choreographer and has choreographed a number of dances for the Singapore Arts Festival and Singapore Festival of Dance. For his contributions to the Singapore dance scene, Ying was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Dance in 1992.2

Early life and artistic career
Ying was trained in ballet and Chinese folk dance at the Shanghai Dance Academy.3 He graduated in 19664 and became the principal dancer at the academy, taking part in large-scale dance dramas, such as Bai fa mo nü (The White-Haired Girl) and Hong se niang zi jun (The Red Detachment of Women).5

Although Ying had an extensive dance repertoire, he was more interested in choreography than dancing. Drawing inspiration from Western choreographers such as George Balanchine and Pina Bausch, Ying began to try his hand at choreography.6


In 1977, Ying joined the Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble as its principal dancer and choreographer. With the ensemble, he toured extensively in countries such as Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg and Switzerland. During this time, he created several visually spectacular large-scale works. Ying’s works, Bian sai lie gui (Return from the Hunt, 1978) and Mu ma ren zhi ge (The Song of the Herdsman, 1977), won the Excellent Creative Award at the National Festival of Music and Dance in China.7

Bian sai lie gui caught the attention of acclaimed China choreographer Shu Qiao, who later became his mentor and collaborator.8 In 1981, together with Shu Qiao, Ying choreographed a dance drama, Yue Fei, the story of a Chinese general who lived during China’s Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279 CE).9

By the 1980s, Ying’s reputation had grown. Shu Qiao and Ying were invited by the Hong Kong Dance Company to become their guest choreographers. In 1983 and 1985, they choreographed two dance dramas, Hua pi (Painted Skin), a ghost story from Liao zhai zhi yi (Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio) and Yu Qing Sao (Aunt Yu Qing), a novel by the well-known Taiwanese writer Bai Xian Yong.10

Ying first encounter with the Singapore dance scene was in 1986, when he and Shu were invited by the Singapore Arts Festival organising committee to create two dances for the festival. The result was Chang hen ge (The Song of Eternal Lament) and Shui lian (Slumbering Lily).11 Chang hen ge was a 60-minute dance piece based on an ancient poem recounting the tale of the Tang Emperor, or Minghuang, and his concubine. It was performed by dancers from the National Dance Company, the People’s Association and the Practice Performing Arts School (now known as The Theatre Practice). Both dances were well received by audiences.12

It was during this trip that Ying saw the potential of the dance scene in Singapore. So in 1988, he accepted an offer by the former Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) to work as a choreographer and came to Singapore with his family. Subsequently, he became a Singapore citizen.13

With SBC, Ying choreographed dances mainly for variety programmes. The work, however, could not satisfy his desire to create more artistic productions. Thus Ying sought to collaborate with various art organisations in Singapore outside of his official work.14

His first dance production in Singapore was Guo shang (National Spirits). This 10-minute item was performed at A Classical and Contemporary Dance Night, an event that was held during the Singapore Festival of Dance (1989). This dance was inspired by Chinese poet Qu Yuan’s poem, Jiu ge (The Nine Songs).15

In 1991, Ying became a guest choreographer and instructor with the Theatre Arts Troupe, Singapore.16 At the same time, he was commissioned by the Singapore Dance Theatre to create Ben yue (Moon Flight) for the Singapore Festival of Dance.17

Ying also collaborated with Singapore multidisciplinary artist Tan Swee Hian on a number of productions. Tan’s poems and fables served as inspirations for Ying’s dances while Tan designed the set and costumes. Their productions included Chen feng (Concealed in Dust, 1990), Gu huo si (Fantasy of Ancient China) and Da ye (The Great Cause, 1991).18

In 1994, Ying decided to leave Singapore for Hong Kong where he was offered the post of assistant artistic director at the Hong Kong Dance Company. In 1995, he was promoted to artistic director. Ying choreographed and produced many large-scale productions with the company such as Yu seng, Nü ji, Qian nü you hun and Cheng sai feng qing. Though he was in Hong Kong, he continued to look for opportunities to collaborate with Singapore artists. Ru ci (Suchness, 1996), based on Tan’s fables and performed by the Hong Kong Dance Company, was the result of such a collaboration. To Ying, his time in Hong Kong was the most creative period in his professional life.19

In 1998, Ying left the Hong Kong Dance Company and spent time travelling in various countries.20 Subsequently, Ying and his wife settled down in Macau where they both taught at the Macau Conservatory.21

Ying continued to be a sought-after choreographer. In 1998, he was commissioned to choreograph a dance for the Shenzhen Song and Dance Troupe. He created a dance drama, Shenzhen gu shi, Zhui qiu (Shenzhen Story, Pursue), depicting the lives of three working-class girls in the fast growing city of Shenzhen, China. This dance was performed in Beijing in 1999 to celebrate China’s 50th National Day. This production won a number of awards in China in 1999 and 2000.22

In 2000, Ying was invited by the Macau Festival of Arts organising committee to choreograph a dance for the festival. In 2001, he produced Macau’s first dance drama, Macau Bride, which was a love story about a Chinese man and a Portuguese girl.23

In 2005, Ying became the artistic director of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macau.24

In between, Ying found time to continue his collaborations with Singapore artists. In 2008, in an exchange programme between Macau and the Dance Ensemble Singapore, he choreographed two dance items, Dan se and Er quan ying yue, which were performed in Singapore.25

Stylistic conventions
Ying is known for creating large-scale dance dramas that are visually spectacular.26 He believes that one can make wonders through the clever use of the old and ancient elements. Therefore, in many of his dance dramas, he incorporates the Chinese classics and, through his sensitive interpretations, creates works that are enjoyed by both dancers and audiences.27 This use of conventional themes and classics can be seen in his works such as Yue Fei (1981) and Guo shang (1989), which were inspired by well-known ancient Chinese heroes; Hua pi (Painted Faces, 1983), which was based on a classic Chinese ghost story; and Chang hen ge (The Song of Eternal Lament, 1986), which drew inspiration from a famous Chinese poem.

Ying’s works are highly accessible to a wide range of audiences. His choreography principle is to create works that are understood by the audience. Trained in Western ballet and Chinese dance himself, Ying’s choreography style capitalises on and seamlessly merges the strengths of both dance traditions.28

Ying continues to choreograph dance productions, focusing in recent years on producing more modern dance works.29

Family30
Wife: 张毅 [Zhang Yi].
Daughter: 应颖 [Ying Ying].

Awards
31
1979, 1981–1982, 1984:
Excellent Creative Award at the National Festival of Music and Dance, China.

1992: Cultural Medallion Award for Dance.
1999: 中宣部五个一工程奖 (Communist Party of China Central Committee Wu Ge Yi Gong Cheng Award).
2
000: 文化部部第九届文华奖: “文华新剧目奖”、“文华音乐奖”、“文华舞美奖”、“文华表演奖”等四项殊荣 (Ministry of Culture, China; Ninth Wen Hua Awards for Drama, Music, Dance and Performance).


List of selected works
1978: 边塞猎归 [Bian sai lie gui] (Return from the Hunt).

1997: 牧马人之歌 [Mu ma ren zhi ge] (The Song of the Herdsman).32
1981: 岳飞 [Yue Fei].33
1983: 画皮 [Hua pi] (Painted Skin).
1985: 玉卿嫂 [Yu Qing sao] (Aunt Yu Qing).34
1986: 长恨歌 [Chang hen ge] (The Song of Eternal Lament).
1986: 睡莲 [Sui lian] (Slumbering Lily).35
1989: 国殇 [Guo shang] (National Spirits).36
1991: 奔月 [Ben yue] (Moon Flight; for the Singapore Festival of Dance).
1991: 大业 [Da ye] (The Great Cause).
1992: 两河 [Liang he] (Two Rivers).
1992: 两翅 [Liang chi] (Two Wings).
1996: 如此 [Ru ci] (Suchness).37
1999: 深圳故事 –追求[Shenzhen gu shi – Zhui qiu] (Shenzhen Story – Pursue).
2001: 澳门新娘 [Ao men xin niang] (Macau Bride).38
2008: 单色 [Dan se] (Monochrome) and二泉映月[Er quan ying yue] (Moon Reflected in Second Spring)



Author
Chor Poh Chin



References
1. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 602. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
2. National Arts Council Singapore. (2012). Cultural Medallion & Young Artist Award Recipients for Dance. Retrieved from https://www.nac.gov.sg/art-forms/music/local-directory/cultural-medallion-young-artist-award-recipients-for-music
3.
Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 602. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
4. 一两天排一支舞本地舞员反应快 [Yi liang tian pai yi zhi wu ben di wu yuan fan ying kuai]. (1992, July 26). 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
6. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
7. Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
8. 陈莎 [Chen, S.]. (1986, February 25). 否定是否定,螺旋是前进 [Fou ding shi fou ding, luo xuan shi qian jin]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
9. 陈莎 [Chen, S.]. (1986, February 25). 否定是否定,螺旋是前进 [Fou ding shi fou ding, luo xuan shi qian jin]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. [Chen, S.]. (1986, February 25). 否定是否定,螺旋是前进 [Fou ding shi fou ding, luo xuan shi qian jin]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
12. Making classics come to life on stage. (1989, December 7). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. 林仁余 [Lin, R. Y.]. (1998, January 17). 应萼定离开香港舞蹈团希望把经验带回新加坡 [Ying E Ding li kai Xiang Gang Wu Dao Tuan xi wang ba jing yan dai hui Xinjiapo]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 54. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. 李慧玲 [Li, H. L.]. (2002, April 7). 舞在他乡的日子 [Wu zai ta xiang de ri zi]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Making classics come to life on stage. (1989, December 7). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
17. 李明明 & 邬福梁 [Li, M. M. & Wu, F. L.]. (1991, November 23). 让舞蹈说故事 [Rang wu dao shuo gu shi]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 50. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. 霍月伟 [Huo, Y. W.]. (1992, November 21). 两河交流出肥沃土地 [Liang he jiao liu chu fei wo tu di]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 41. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
19.  林仁余 [Lin, R. Y.]. (1998, January 17). 应萼定离开香港舞蹈团希望把经验带回新加坡  [Ying E Ding li kai Xiang Gang Wu Dao Tuan xi wang ba jing yan dai hui Xinjiapo]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 54. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. 林仁余 [Lin, R. Y.]. (1998, January 17). 应萼定离开香港舞蹈团希望把经验带回新加坡 [Ying E Ding li kai Xiang Gang Wu Dao Tuan xi wang ba jing yan dai hui Xinjiapo]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 54. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; BeijingReview.com.cn. (2010, June 8). 女祭”到“奔月” [Cong Nu Ji dao Ben Yue]. Retrieved from http://www.beijingreview.com.cn/2009news/wenyu/zongheng/2010-06/08/content_277714.ht

21. 吴启基 [Wu, Q. J.]. (2001, April 2). 他为澳门创作第一部舞剧 [Ta wei Ao Men chuang zuo di yi bu wu ju]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 31; 周文龙 [Zhou, W. L.]. (2008, August 16). 文化奖得主应萼定有舞台我肯定会回来 [Wen hua jiang de zhu Ying E Ding you wu tai wo ken ding hui hui lai].联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. 新风娱乐 [Xin Feng Yu Le]. (2010, August 24). 舞剧“深圳故事-追求:创造文艺精品新模式 [Wu ju Shenzhen gu h i- zhui qiu: Chuang zhao wen yi jing pin xin mo shi] Retrieved from http://ent.sina.com.cn/j/2010-08-24/18483063033.shtml
23. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding; 吴启基 [Wu, Q. J.]. (2001, April 2). 他为澳门创作第一部舞剧 [Ta wei Ao Men chuang zuo di yi bu wu ju]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 602. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
24. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
25. 周文龙 [Zhou, W. L.]. (2008, August 16). 文化奖得主应萼定有舞台我肯定会回来 [Wen hua jiang de zhu Ying E Ding you wu tai wo ken ding hui hui lai].联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
27. Making classics come to life on stage. (1989, December 7). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
28. 用肢体诠释寓言 [Yong zhi ti yu yan quan shi yu yan]. (1996, June 4). 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR); Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 602. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
29. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
30. 李慧玲 [Li, H. L.]. (2002, April 7).舞在他乡的日子 [Wu zai ta xiang de ri zi]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR); 新风娱乐 [Xin Feng Yu Le]. (2010, August 24). 舞剧深圳故事-追求:创造文艺精品新模式 [Wu ju Shenzhen gu h i- zhui qiu: Chuang zhao wen yi jing pin xin mo shi] Retrieved from http://ent.sina.com.cn/j/2010-08-24/18483063033.shtml
32. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
33. 陈莎 [Chen, S.]. (1986, February 25). 否定是否定,螺旋是前进 [Fou ding shi fou ding, luo xuan shi qian jin]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. 陈莎 [Chen, S.]. (1986, February 25). 否定是否定,螺旋是前进 [Fou ding shi fou ding, luo xuan shi qian jin]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
36. Making classics come to life on stage. (1989, December 7). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Tribute.sg. (2012). Ying E Ding. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Ying+E+Ding
38. 吴启基 [Wu, Q. J.]. (2001, April 2). 他为澳门创作第一部舞剧 [Ta wei Ao Men chuang zuo di yi bu wu ju]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 26 February 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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