Dancer and choreographer Jiali Wang understands a basic concept which so many of us overlook; one which is the key to happiness. What is this obvious secret? It’s part of her every day and lifelong pursuit. Simply put, music and dance are a relationship of coexistence; listening and moving in unison. This basic concept can affect every relationship on our lives, including the one with ourselves, in a benevolent manner. By listening to the world and moving uniquely yet positively with it, we allow others and ourselves to lead a better existence. Though we may become weary, each side reenergizes the other. As a dancer born in China who is also acclaimed for her work in the NYC dance community, Wang knows a thing or two about the universality of different pieces working together to make the whole better than its individual components. Beyond her own successful dance career, Jiali has received a great deal of attention for her work with the 7MPR Dance Theater and 7MPR Themed Cultural Dance Collective. Her current and upcoming work proves that she’s working tirelessly to use dance to cultivate positivity in today’s culture.
Jiali seemed destined for an arts centered life and career. The daughter of two Chinese traditional folk singers (her mother for the Sichuan Song and Dance Troupe and her father for the Sichuan Folk Art Institute), she chose dance for its challenges and the strength it offered her. While her mother performed with the orchestra, a young Jiali was fixated on the dancers, a profound indicator that her resolve would propel her into a successful international career. As founder and choreographer for the New York City based 7MPR Dance Theater she has not only championed the NYC dance community but also pioneered new avenues for topical social discourse. Following the massive success of 7MPR’s dance theatre performances, Wang has extended this idea to create the 7MPR Themed Cultural Dance Collective which aims to gather different cultural dance groups together for performances in New York. As the art director of this movement, Jiali is bringing Chinese dance groups from Manhattan, Long Island, Queens, and Port Chester, to perform in a number of different festivals. While it may sound a bit trite, it is exposure to the uniqueness of different cultures and the celebration of them, rather than their dissolution, which makes America a more vibrant and exciting place. Additionally, Wang is promoting participants from seniors to teenagers to increase the multigenerational community. Although she is beginning with the Chinese community, Jiali plans on extending the 7MPR Cultural Dance Collective to a number of other groups. She informs, “In the future, I want to work with Cuban dance and American Broadway dance groups. Every dance style offers something unique and enjoyable. Since I was a child learning Chinese dance in dance academy, I wanted to learn American dance. I’d watch musicals like West Side Story and Singing in the Rain on TV and marvel at them. Dance makes people happy and knowledgeable.”
While much attention is focused on what performance does for famous artists and celebrities, far too little credit is given to the act of performing by the general public. With an estimated 16.2 million Americans reporting one of more depressive episodes, something as simple as dancing can offer massive benefits. The benevolent effects range from physical to emotional and even social. Jiali notes the recognizable benefits stating, “There are many people I’ve met in Chinese communities who have told me they feel lonely and distressed. They want to make friends and participate in meaningful and cheerful activities. When I first led and organized a group for the Dance Parade [New York City’s largest dance event], their demeanour completely transformed. That confirmed my resolve to do more and even make more happen with different cultural communities in New York. I realized that I’m not just a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. As an artistic director, I’m doing this project to help people with different cultural backgrounds and bring them together. It’s amazing to see this build their confidence, happiness, and positivity. Just as importantly, it provides a platform for them to see different cultural groups from all parts of the world. To engage in great activities. Yes, I’m building something even bigger than dance now!” It’s not every artist who aspires to create something which transcends their own creative pursuits but, Jiali Wang is not every artist.