Jin Xing, whose name means “Gold Star,” was a 9-year-old Chinese kid of Korean ancestry when he joined the People’s Liberation Army in 1976 and began training as a dancer. Ten years later he came to New York, studying and performing in the modern dance community.
Returning home, Jin had sexual reassignment surgery, and she now runs a dance troupe based in Shanghai, choreographing in styles ranging from Isadora Duncan to Pilobolus, with stops in between at Humphrey-Weidman, Martha Graham and various tropes of Chinese dance including billowing scarves and dazzling cartwheels. Living as a woman with a husband and three adopted children, and still dancing in her mid-forties, she’s something of a celebrity in China.
Her 11-part show at the Joyce has its pleasures, but feels more like a competent college-modern concert than an exploration of any particular aesthetic. Jin seems out of touch with the last 20 years of dance development, relying on sentimental imagery (a ballerina spinning atop a music box; a fraught family drama featuring a woman torn between her violent husband, her anxious lover and her child) and props like bicycles rather than innovative movement design. Her men are often bare-chested, her women bare-legged.
Recorded music from Astor Piazzolla to Dead Can Dance accompanies this pastiche, concluding with a stilted number for guys on bikes and girls in evening gowns, racing around to a Strauss waltz. Still celebrating the Year of the Dragon? You could do it here.