Uncovering a Chinese tradition

Since 2012, Hao Jingban (Chinese, b. 1985) has been conducting extensive research and filming for her Beijing Ballroom project. In the two videos on view—An Afternoon Ball (2013) and Off Takes (2016)—Hao traces the present ballroom tradition in Beijing to the two waves of ballroom dancing in the early 1950s and the post-Cultural Revolution era in the late 1970s.

An Afternoon Ball presents individual and collective portraits of an otherwise secluded world, where social constrictions and romantic notions intertwine. At the same time, the carefully composed footage frames the choreographed ritual of contemporary ballroom dancing as a set of abstract spatial relations, both visual and psychological.

Off Takes, Hao’s most recent work from the Beijing Ballroom project, is based on previously discarded footage. By revisiting and reorganizing the material, Hao creates a narrative that shifts between nostalgic meditations of the past and critical analysis of the present, always considering the distance between herself and the subjects of her work.