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More international audiences have seen the works of Chinese performing artists, thanks to the efforts of Ping Pong Productions. The Beijing-based art management company has been exposing young Chinese artists to oversea viewers through tours, collaborations and teaching residencies.
Founder and director Alison Friedman says her experience navigating the rapidly evolving Chinese performing arts world has been exciting.
"For a long time, most Chinese dancing companies were supported and run by the government, but now as China's entire infrastructure is changing, young artists are creating new works and experimenting with new styles," she says at a recent seminar on performing arts at the Chinese Consulate in New York.
The company's name is taken from the term "Ping Pong Diplomacy", which was coined after a group of American table tennis players and journalists traveled to China in 1971 to smoothen then-strained diplomatic relations.
Ping Pong Productions is dedicated to helping medium- or small-sized Chinese organizations with fewer resources to go abroad.
"We have two main focuses: going out and bring in," she says.
In the summer of 2012 Ping Pong Productions brought TAO Dance company, a small group of fewer than 10 dancers, to an audience of 18,000 at New York's annual Lincoln Center Festival. TAO also performed at Sydney Opera House and Sadler's Wells (UK), among other world-renowned dance theaters.
China generates 2 to 3 million performing-arts products every year, among the highest in the world. But many cultural groups, particularly medium- or small-sized organizations, continue to struggle both financially and in adapting to a modern management, Friedman says.
It's not surprising that most young Chinese artists face financial difficulties, but Friedman remains positive about their future in and outside China and is determined to help them.
Friedman was previously the general manager for Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer Tan Dun's company Parnassus Productions in New York, and a host on China Radio International.