Jeremy Yuan. Photo by Steve Korn.

The University of Washington campus comes alive for Autumn Quarter on September 28, and shortly thereafter, the UW’s Chamber Dance Company returns to the live stage on October 13.  As part of the Chamber Dance Company, instructor and graduate student Jeremy Yuan will perform in three dance pieces during this performance.

These three dance works include Vulgar Fraction (2022), choreographed by Gary Champi, Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue (2008, excerpt), by Crystal Pite, and Stardust (2014), by David Roussève.  “We have been rehearsing so hard since June, 2022,” Yuan said. “This is also my first performance at UW in Seattle, can’t wait and so excited for it.”

For Yuan, this excitement has been building for eighteen years, the time of his earliest memory of dance.   “I remember one day I was watching a television show, and it was all about dancing,” he remembered. “I looked at those little dancers who were so happy in dance and their pretty dancing customs, which compelled me so much, and the show made me want to be a dancer.”

At age ten, Yuan was sent by his parents to a dance boarding school.  “My dance training in the very first ten years was so strict,” Yuan described. “I spent six years learning Chinese dance in Wuhan Art School.”

His training continued with four years specializing in Chinese traditional dance, followed by a BFA in Dance at Shanghai Theatre Academy.  “Recently, I am spending my time in the USA to get my MFA in Dance at University of Washington,” he added. “It is quite interesting to experience a completely new learning environment.”

In contrast to his education in China, Yuan finds the UW program to be broad and self-directed.  “Those two different learning experiences brought me many benefits in my life,” he said, “I combined the two cultural ingredients in my teaching and learning as a dancer and also a dance teacher.”

The purpose of dance is always foremost in Yuan’s mind.  “The most important things I’ve learned over the years is that, always knowing whom I study for, always knowing whom I teach for,” he said, “and always reminding myself to learn from others and always dance for myself forever.”

Studying both eastern and western cultures helped Yuan to become an adaptive dancer and dance maker. “But I had a hard time transferring my choreographic style when I made dance work,” Yuan elaborated. “I often have to consider how to open my mind, and to not make something ‘too beautiful.’ I am expecting to make more meaningful and multicultural works in the future that can make my inner world visible to my audience.”

Yuan’s travels have broadened his perspective.  “When I was in Shanghai, I learned that all individuals can be connected by dance, so I moved to Texas,” he reported. “When I was in Texas, I learned that to find a right place where my desire, performing, teaching and learning in dance, can be fulfilled is so important, so I transferred to Seattle.”

This city is allowing Yuan to flourish and feel joy.  “Most compelling experience for me in Seattle is to stay hungry, to stay foolish, and be myself, always dancing for myself,” he said. “I love Seattle so much, It is the right place for me to call it home.”

From this feeling of belonging, Yuan considers himself to be a dance ambassador.  “It is always better to say that I am an ambassador rather than say that I am a teacher,” he explained. “My goal is to share my dance experiences with people who like to dance a lot.”

His goals go beyond teaching others technique.  “I do also want to build a bridge between different cultures in dance, to help dancers with different backgrounds to make connections,” he said. “I taught my first Chinese dance class when I was studying for my MFA degree as a TA at Sam Houston State University.”

Dance can create community, Yuan believes.  “I realized that dance connects us together as a whole, no matter what kind of dance types we were doing,” he said, “I can see all the beautiful souls were so united.”

Yuan will spend the next two years completing his MFA in Dance at UW.  “I wanted to say to everyone who loves dance very much, please keep yourself dancing, no matter what level you are, what matter how old you are,” he encouraged, “just keep dancing, because you will receive so much power and benefit from it.”

Jeremy Yuan performs with the Chamber Dance Company on October 13 at Meany Hall Studio Theatre, University of Washington, Seattle.

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