by Leah Cohen
I don’t know about you, but my heart is warmed by the diversity of people who call Greenbelt home: old and young, families and retirees, university students and essential workers, immigrants, migrants, “pioneers”, those here til death-do-us-part and those who are just passing through. Diversity is nourishing, and we are all the better for welcoming people with different perspectives. This article calls attention to one new member of the community who is teaching dance classes through Greenbelt Recreation that promise to be amazing. Please join me in welcoming Rose Xinran Qi and her family to Greenbelt.
I interviewed Rose late last week, and discovered someone who is the master of her craft in theory and in practice. She dances, choreographs and conducts research in traditional, contemporary and folk dance of China, is trained in ballet and classical Chinese dance, and since coming to the United States, has incorporated post-modern dance into her repertoire. Her passion runs deep: she has been dancing, winning awards and earning scholarships for over 20 years. She earned her MFA from the University of Maryland in 2021, and has worked extensively as a guest expert in the fusion of Chinese and contemporary dance at collegiate conferences and festivals. Miss Rose, as her students call her, considers it her life’s work to build bridges between traditional Chinese and modern dance. As she puts it, “Learning through reading is so different from learning through movement.”
What sets Rose Xinran Qi apart from other visionary dancers and choreographers is her expansive, inclusive way of teaching. Going to school in China, she learned that the teacher is always right. “If the teacher says, ‘One plus one is two,’ that is what you learn. If they say, ‘One plus one is four,’ okay! One plus one is four!” She concludes, “It’s so different here!” While she is still learning just how many ways it is different here, it is Rose’s goal to foster unique communities of individuals in each of her classes. She believes that working collaboratively is more rewarding for everyone, herself included, and she fully embraces a collaborative educational model. Such a difference from her childhood in Shanxi province!
This summer, Rose will be teaching classical Chinese dance and Chinese fan dance through Greenbelt Recreation. Rose notes that these classes are perfect for beginners, and that dancing with “props” (the fans!) is always thrilling for novices. (See the 2022 Summer Activity Guide for more details on youth and adult classes.)
Rose will also be working with Afternoon Art Adventures and Camp Encore. She lit up with excitement when I asked about Camp Encore and explained that she is learning as much about American culture as she is teaching teens to dance. (In case you are not familiar, Encore is Greenbelt Recreation’s ever-popular summer Shakespeare experience for teens that is led by Kate McGill-Robinson.) Robinson is equally thrilled to have Rose on the Camp Encore team. She says that Rose’s “enthusiasm, energy and willingness to learn and be a team player have made her a delightful addition”, and that “her skill set has given the campers an opportunity to experience some really new and different movement activities.” (Camp Encore is full this summer, but see the Summer Activity Guide for details about Afternoon Art Adventures for ages 6-12.)
Outside the world of dance, Rose’s big cat wandered through the living room she shares with her husband, and a golden retriever puppy barked occasionally in the background as we spoke on Zoom. “I live in a zoo!” exclaimed Rose as she told me that there are actually two cats in her house, and that their Old Greenbelt neighborhood has many, many dogs with super-friendly owners. When asked how she had found her way to the Greenbelt Recreation dance program, she explained that she lived right across the street and friendly neighbors mentioned her to Angella Foster, Greenbelt Recreation’s Dance Studio Director. One friendly interview later, and she was hired. Lucky Greenbelt!
The conversation never veers very far from dance, though, because it is such a huge part of Rose Xinran Qi’s life. She spent more than two decades learning several different forms of classical Chinese dance – folk and modern – as well as ballet and, most recently, focusing on contemporary dance. Her MFA combined Chinese and post-modern dance forms as a way of expressing her experiences learning a new culture in a new land while continuing to love and honor her life in China.
To join one of Rose’s collaborative dance experiences, find details and registration information in the Summer Activity Guide. Don’t delay! Evening classes begin tomorrow (July 8)! Afternoon Art Adventures are part of the camp program, and registration paperwork is found in the Summer Camp Guide 2022. Access either document electronically and link to the online registration portal through the Greenbelt Virtual Recreation Center.