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LRCCS Tuesday Lecture Series | Moonwalking in Beijing: Michael Jackson, Piliwu, and the Origins of Chinese Hip-Hop

Emily Wilcox, Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Studies, University of Michigan
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Room 110 Weiser Hall Map
During the latter half of the 1980s, a popular dance craze known as "piliwu" 霹雳舞 swept urban communities across China. Incorporating two new styles of US urban popular dance--New York-based b-boying/b-girling or "breaking" and California-based popping and locking-- piliwu was China's first localized movement of hip-hop culture, which reflected new circuits of intercultural exchange between China and the United States during the first decade of China's Reform Era. Analyzing the dance choreography recorded in a 1988 Chinese film, Rock Youth 摇滚青年 (dir. Tian Zhangzhuang), together with media reports and testimonials from members of China's piliwu generation, this talk reconstructs the history of the piliwu movement, arguing for the central influence of U.S. pop culture icon Michael Jackson, the growth of China's underground commercial dance (zou xue 走穴) economy, and the agency of dancers' bodies in transnational movements of media culture.

Emily Wilcox is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. She is a specialist in Chinese performance culture, especially dance, and has published articles in both English and Chinese in "Asian Theatre Journal," "TDR: The Drama Review," "The Journal of Asian Studies," "Wudao Pinglun (The Dance Review)," and other venues. Dr. Wilcox co-curated the 2017 exhibition "Chinese Dance: National Movements in a Revolutionary Age, 1945-1965" that was on display in the UM Hatcher Library last spring, and she is the author of a forthcoming book on the history of concert dance in the People's Republic of China.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Asia, Chinese Studies, Dance
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures