Exclusive Interview with Shuning Huang – Dancer
Shuning Huang, born and raised in Nanjing, China, received her MA in Dance Education from New York University, and BA in Dance Studies from Beijing Dance Academy.
She started formally studying Chinese dance and ballet at the age of 6, and shifted her focus to modern dance from undergraduate school to continue her studies, her training encompasses Chinese (classical and folk) dance, Modern/Contemporary, Ballet, and Jazz. She is currently a dancer in Six Degrees Dance and New York Chinese Culture Center, has performed at the Mark O’Donnell Theater, WAXWorks, Culture Lab LIC, the Tank, Dixon Place, Emerging Artists Theater, New York Botanical Garden, just to name a few.
As an educator, Shuning strives to create a more effective learning environment for her students. She believes that dance is a form of expression that has no boundaries and allows for different sparks to emerge.
NY Glam: Tell us about your career as dancer. How did you get started?
My journey as a dancer began when I was in kindergarten. That’s when I first started exploring dance through extracurricular activities, particularly Chinese dance. As I progressed, I entered a specialized art school where I studied both Chinese dance and ballet. So, my childhood was closely intertwined with dance.
During middle school and high school, I reduced the frequency of my dance practice to explore other possibilities. It was during this time that I became interested in musical theater, delving into jazz and vocal training. It wasn’t until college that I pursued formal dance training again when I gained admission to the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy.
Even then, I viewed dance primarily as a skill. It wasn’t until I was introduced to modern dance in college that my interest in dance deepened, and I developed a strong desire for creative expression. This newfound passion led me to choose the United States, specifically New York, for my graduate studies, where I continued my exploration of dance.
My time at NYU provided me with a more immersive experience in American dance, solidifying my decision to stay in New York City and further pursue dance creation. It was during this period that I began to see dance as more than just a skill but as a profound form of artistic expression that allowed me to communicate and explore various aspects of life and culture through movement. This realization has been a driving force in my career as a dancer and choreographer.
NY Glam: What type of Dancing do you do?
Chinese Dance (Classical, Folk Dance), Ballet, Modern, Contemporary. These are my main types of dance, and some basic jazz dance.
NY Glam: What’s one of the most interesting performance that you’ve done?
I hold each performance opportunity close to my heart and approach every piece with respect and love. However, if I were to pick one performance that stands out, it would be the first piece I created after coming to the United States, titled “Thou汝.” This performance is particularly memorable to me because it marked a precious opportunity to explore and collaborate with new people in an unfamiliar environment.
What makes it even more special is that “Thou汝” allowed me to present a dance piece infused with elements of my own culture in a completely different cultural context. It was a unique experience to showcase a dance that incorporated both Eastern and Western influences to a diverse audience. I take immense pride in this achievement, and it’s something I hope to continue doing in the future – bridging cultures through dance and creating meaningful connections between different artistic traditions.
NY Glam: What challenges have you faced as a dancer, and how have you overcome them?
Balancing life and dance creativity has indeed been a challenging endeavor, and this balance can often bring about pressure, particularly in the realm of dance creation.
Firstly, the pressure arises from the competing demands of life and dance. There are times when responsibilities from work, or family life can weigh heavily, making it essential to allocate time wisely. This can sometimes result in tight schedules. In such situations, effective time management becomes paramount. I create detailed daily schedules to ensure I have ample time for dance creation while also ensuring that other responsibilities are adequately addressed.
Secondly, the pressure in dance creation often stems from the desire to excel in artistic expression. There are moments when I might feel creatively drained or burdened by external expectations. In these instances, I take specific measures to alleviate the pressure. This includes collaborating with fellow artists to share creative ideas and seek fresh inspiration.
NY Glam: How do you engage with your followers and build a strong relationship with your audience?
Engaging with my audience involves maintaining an active online presence through regular updates, interactive content, and storytelling in my performances. I strive to foster a sense of community by encouraging discussions and interactions among my followers. Responding to comments and messages is a priority, as it shows appreciation for their support and allows for meaningful conversations. Collaborating with fellow artists not only expands my creative horizons but also introduces my audience to new perspectives and talents. These efforts collectively help me build a strong and enduring relationship with my audience, allowing them to be an integral part of my dance journey and artistic exploration.
NY Glam: Can you share any tips or advice for someone who wants to become a successful dancer?
Don’t give up trying, don’t wait, take the initiative and create.
NY Glam: What are you currently working on?
I have three upcoming performances for the remainder of 2023 and into 2024:
1. On September 23rd, I will be presenting my solo choreography titled “Afterglow” at the BAC’s performance showcase at the Balance Arts Center. This piece is the second installment in my “after” series, exploring the profound connection between human existence and the cosmos by drawing analogies between the afterglow of a sunset and the transient nature of our lives.
2. On October 7th, I have a solo performance at Grounds for Sculpture, where I will be dancing in collaboration with sculptures as part of The Outlet Dance Project.
3. Then, on November 17th, I will be part of a group dance performance titled “To Fold and Unfold” at WADEintoACTIVISM with my talented friends. This piece, choreographed by Eilish Henderson, builds upon a previous duet version that was previously performed at Dancewave and will now be presented as a complete work.
These performances are exciting opportunities for me to express my artistic vision and explore the diverse facets of dance. I’m looking forward to sharing these experiences with the audience.
NY Glam: How would you define your personal style in dance?
My work primarily focuses on gender, particularly women, and explores the human body within society. Inspiration for my creations often comes from visual images, dance movements, or specific figures. Rather than having a predetermined concept, I prefer to explore and discover during the artistic journey. The initial vision is usually clear, with specific characters, atmosphere, and a general sense of how the dance will look.
Throughout my work, I’ve also discovered and embraced the unique beauty that is distinctly Chinese—subtle and restrained. I admire this restrained beauty, which coexists harmoniously with the dramatic tension in my choreography. I also enjoy incorporating colors, and my pieces often feature a defined color palette chosen by me.
NY Glam: Tell us about your training routine.
I maintain a regular training routine that includes both ballet and modern dance classes.
Additionally, I engage in personal ballet and Pilates training to enhance my flexibility and maintain a strong sense of body awareness necessary for dance. Consistent training is essential to stay in peak physical condition and ensure that I’m always prepared for upcoming performances and creative projects.
NY Glam: What do you hope to accomplish…? Any future plans?
I hope to continue pushing the boundaries of my artistry in dance. My aspiration is to create compelling choreography that explores diverse themes and emotions, bridging cultural gaps through my performances. In the future, I plan to expand my portfolio of choreographed works, collaborate with other artists, and continue sharing my passion for dance with a global audience. My ultimate goal is to leave a lasting impact on the world of dance and inspire others to explore the beauty and depth of this art form.
NY Glam: How do you balance your personal life with your audience? Are there any boundaries you’ve set for yourself?
Balancing my personal life with my audience and artistic pursuits can be challenging, but it’s essential to maintain a healthy equilibrium. I believe in being open and genuine with my audience, sharing aspects of my life and artistry that I’m comfortable with. However, I do set certain boundaries to protect my privacy and mental well-being. It’s crucial to strike a balance that allows me to express myself creatively while also preserving personal boundaries and maintaining a sense of authenticity in my work. This balance ensures that I can continue to share my passion for dance with my audience while nurturing my personal life and well-being.
NY Glam: Where can everyone find you and learn more about your content?
You can find more about my work and stay updated on my dance performances by following me on Instagram: @shyulavniga, and by visiting my website at www.shuninghuang.com. I regularly post updates and share my dance journey and upcoming events on these platforms.