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Wen Hui / Living Dance Studio

The choreographer Wen Hui is almost a legend in her home country China with her works, in which she combines dance and documentary film: in 1994 she founded the first independent dance theatre group in the one-party state, is internationally renowned and an important voice in the fight for women's rights. One of the works that brought her international recognition was “Report on Giving Birth” from 1999.


This was based on interviews with female factory workers, doctors, journalists, midwives and her own mother about their experiences of pregnancy and birth. Now, 24 years after its world premiere, in “New Report on Giving Birth” four dancers reveal current perspectives on the female body.
They come together as mothers, non-mothers and women with migrant backgrounds from China, Thailand, Iran, Italy and Germany.
They translate the realities and ascriptions associated with this status into choreographies that are powerful, playful, poetic and intimate.

Together with the dancers, Wen Hui investigates how structural violence and control become codified in the body. Here dance serves both as a means of communication and a moving archive; their communal process is a route to both empathy and resistance.

Wen Hui, What specifically prompted you to create “New Report on Giving Birth”? 

“When I created the first ‘Report on Giving Birth’ in 1999 I interviewed women between 27 and 92 years including the performers and their mothers about their experiences of being pregnant and giving birth, which has been (and still is) quite a taboo. I realized that these conversations were a door opener to reflect on themselves and their lives, their personal stories – beyond the specific experience of being a mother.
In 2022 a video of a woman in a rural village near the city of Xuzhou went viral on the internet. She had been giving birth to eight children – in the video you see the women with a chain on her neck, being held captive by her ‘husband’.
This is in a context where the one-child policy has changed to a three-child policy in China and has caused larger attention and public anger about the general situation of women in the Chinese society. When I moved to Frankfurt last year, I wanted to do a ‘New Report on Giving Birth’ to come back to the topic of motherhood from multiple perspectives. We are facing a growing misogyny on a global level – women*, trans*, and non-binary people are the most vulnerable groups in societies. States still hold the power on women’s* bodies.

I wanted to use the chance to work with female dancers from various backgrounds – to invite them to share their personal stories and explore together, how our different stories and experiences are also connected to a wider context: How can we share a space of trust, empathy, and strength through movement and dance?”

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Additional information
Production: Künstler*innenhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt am Main), Living Dance Studio (Peking). Co-production: HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Hellerau (Dresden), PACT Zollverein (Essen), Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Festival d’Automne (Paris). Supported within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
Participating artists
Wen Hui (Konzept & Choreografie)
Living Dance Studio (Konzept & Choreografie)
Alessandra Corti (Tanz & Performance)
Patscharaporn Distakul (Tanz & Performance)
Parvin Saljoughi (Tanz & Performance)
Wen Hui (Tanz & Performance)
Alexandra Hennig (Dramaturgie)
Matthias Engelke (Musik)
Rémi Crépeau (Video)
Matthias Rieker (Lichtdesign)
Willi Bopp (Sound)
Zhang Zhen (Dramaturgische Beratung und Beratung Recherche)
Katja Armknecht (Produktion)
Nadine Branca (Operatives Produktionsmanagement)
Julia Alsdorf (Outside Eye & Beratung)
Damien Valette (Distribution)
Dates
March 2024
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