I have a lot of affection for the series Ugly Wudi since it was the first thing I wrote about on Cfensi. It’s also a good series from what I’ve seen of it, although what I’ve seen consists of only bits and pieces. However I love the fact that, in keeping with Hunan TV tradition, it’s given lesser known but very experienced actors a break, like Wang Kai, Qi Ji and Liu Xiaohu who’ve graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, Beijing Film Academy and Shanghai Theatre Academy (the big triumvate of top acting institutes in China) respectively.
It also lets less experienced actors shine: Photographer Zhong Hongkai posted some pictures he took of the lead actress Li Xinru, only 21, on his blog, with this comment:
“Li Ruxin is a very slender, tall girl. For this series, she gained weight. This professional attitude is very worthy of our admiration. Her lively and happy attitude allowed us to work joyfully. Except the company would not let us take off the glasses, so all the pictures came out a bit Harry Potter like, leaving me feeling a bit disappointed. Next time we’ll have to do this again without the glasses.”
Li Xinru unlike the majority of her drama school alumni costars, has an extensive background in dance, a graduate of the PLA School of Arts Dance Department and the Beijing Department of Classical Dance. Gaining weight for her role must be harder than anyone of us can imagine for someone who has had to keep her weight strictly at a certain range for years and years due to the strict requirements they have at the PLA for their students.
It’s not uncommon to see dancers going into acting. There’s been countless times when I’ve come across interviews with actresses in Hollywood who have some degree of dancing background, and this happens quite frequently with Chinese actors. In fact the two leads for the New Dream of the Red Chamber are both from dance academies. Animation studios have also had a habit of using dancers as models for detailing the movements they want to duplicate on paper. There is a grace and confidence that dancers bring.
Ugly Wudi is a show that calls for a lot of physical comedy from its lead, and it just may be why Li Xinru was chosen. Her dancing background will also come in handy for season three, which is going to be a musical series (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Once More With Feeling”) . Season three begins airing this summer, and I can’t wait.
While I think that yes, much of it is Wuxia-related (this did come to mind as I was writing this), the dancing background in actors was something I picked up on even before I cared about Asian entertainment. Dancing, is, after all a performance art, and there is something about the fluidity of the movements that probably is pleasing to the eye. A dance background can erase awkward movements which a camera may pick up on easily.
I think more or less as I was writing this, I just was sort of examining where Chinese actors come from in general, and it seems to be those top three schools or the Beijing Dance Academy or the PLA Dance Academy.
It’s interesting that they are actually going to be using these talents for a musical however (Liu Xiaohu I believe was also a dance instructor at Beijing Dance Academy, and his movements looked good when I saw him on TTXS). It really just boggles my mind that they are doing this, and I fear I’m setting myself for a disappointment, but if they do this, they are doing something I really haven’t seen done before. It’s just also exciting to see China use their talent in such a manner, and letting them shine. China has a lot of people who would be fantastic for musicals, and even though talks of getting the musical big in China has been going on for years by Broadway bigshots and nothing concrete has happened, when the market is right, it’ll definitely come. Already China’s been doing way more musical stuff that I ever would have thought, and it seems musicals are being embraced. And then all of these talented people will have an new outlet.
I think dancers are especially great for wuxia dramas. Crystal Liu’s dancing backgrounds were definitely a big plus when she did her moves. They were gorgeous. And there’s that grace and posture that dancers bring that are great for ancient dramas in general.
I’m not fond of that photographer, though. I think good photographers should be able to find the beauty in the most ugly things. He reminds me of the director in Ugly Wudi.
I believe most singers and actresses, have a background of dancing. Well it seems to be true especially in China. I swear I came across numerous sites recently and many of those girls are tall, pretty and have dance backgrounds.