Sami Chinese Project

Dance 1.2–2.2


Sami Chinese Project

Ancient Sami traditions meet contemporary Chinese aesthetics in a search for global creation. This project brings indigenous Sami musicians from the northern Sápmi region together with one of China’s leading urban indie-folk-rock musicians to create original music for a new performance by leading contemporary Chinese dance group TAO Dance Theater.

Sami Chinese Project will premiere as the opening performance of the 2014 European Cultural Capital in Umeå, followed by a nation-wide Swedish tour. The two-year creation process has seen the artists in creative research residencies in each other’s countries, including at Ricklundgården in the far northern village of SAXNÄS, South of Lapland and at the prestigious Shanghai International Arts Fair.

Unlike many typical ”East-meets-West collaborations", in the Sami Chinese Project, it is Europe which represents ancient and China which represents contemporary. The Sami tradition of “yoik” singing has been passed down through the generations, and survived despite much of Sami culture being lost to modernization. On the other side of the globe in urban megalopolis Beijing, indie-folk-rocker Xiao He draws on everything from Peking Opera to punk rock.

Choreographer Tao Ye insists that in the 21st century categories like “East” and “West” are no longer relevant as we become more intertwined and accessible to each other.
In this era, purports Tao, anything is up for grabs and no one can claim ownership of any aspect of a culture. How do artists create identities in this new “free-for-all” environment?

Choreograher: Tao Ye
Composers and musicians: Axel Andersson, Simon Issát Marainen, Xiao He
Dancers: TAO Dance Theater
Light designer: Ellen Ruge
Photo: Fan Xi

Coproduction: NorrlandsOperan, Ping Pong Productions and TAO Dance Theater.
Supported by: Umeå2014, Swedish Arts Council, Swedish Arts Grants Committee and Region Västerbotten.

With support from

Logotyp TAO



TAO Dance Theater
In just five years, TAO Dance Theater has toured more than twenty countries on five continents. TAO was the first contemporary dance company from China invited to perform in Lincoln Center Festival (US) and the Sydney Opera House (AU); the second Chinese contemporary dance company to be invited to perform at the American Dance Festival (ADF); and the first Chinese company to be invited to be artists-in-residence for ADF's six-week festival.

Other venues and festivals include, Sadler's Wells (UK), JulidansFestival (NL), Canada’s National Arts Centre, Suzanne DellalArts Centre (IL), Europalia(BE), Singapore Arts Festival, Festival InternacionalCervantino(MX), BusanInternational Dance Festival (KR), Festival International Madrid en Danza(ES), Wiener Festwochen(AT) and “Novel Dance Series” in Taipei, invited by renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre artistic director/founder Lin Hwai-Min.

In 2013, TAO Dance Theater was invited to perform as part of the opening of the Second Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition at Beijing’s prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), followed two months later by the company’s featured performances at the NCPA, the first in their home country after nearly three years of international touring.

Recent commissions include “6: The Sami Chinese Project” for the opening performance of the 2014 European Capital of Culture, and “7” for Sadler’s Wells in London, to premiere October, 2014.

Choreographer / founder Tao Ye is developing a training technique that allows his dancers to explore the potential of the human body and its extremes, pushing beyond limitations and expectations. He has been invited to teach workshops of this technique both in China and abroad, including the American Dance Festival, Canada’s HarbourfrontCentre, Singapore Arts Festival, DongyiUniversity of Korea, Beijing UllensCenter for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing Dance Academy, China Central University of Nationalities, among others.

Tao Ye
Artistic Director/Choreographer
Tao Ye graduated from the Chongqing Dance School in Chongqing, China, after which he became a performer in the Shanghai Army Song & Dance Ensemble. In 2004 he joined Jin Xing Dance Theater in Shanghai. In 2005, Tao’s duetOne Personwas performed in the Shanghai Art Center. Tao joined the Beijing Modern Dance Company (BMDC) in 2006 and toured internationally as well as in China. As a member of BMDC, he choreographed the male duetIn•Inin 2006 and the company workFantasyin 2007. In March 2008 he founded TAO Dance Theater. Main works include:Weight x 3; Sketch; moment; left & right; 2; 4;and5.In 2011, he was invited to co-star in the filmThe Blue Boneby cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Du Kefeng) and directed by rock legend Cui Jian. In 2012 leading Asian style magazineMen’s UNOawarded Tao Ye the 2012 Elegance Award, and Sadler’s Wells (UK) named him one of their ”New Wave Associates” artists.

Xiao He
Composer/ Musician
Xiao He first attracted serious attention in the late 1990s with his experimental band, Glorious Pharmacy, a Dada-esque performance art-rock troupe that mixed folk, jazz, experimentation, improvised performances and action art to create a strangely surreal sound. Modern Sky, China's largest independent record label, released Xiao He's first independent CD that was received as one of the most important recordings in contemporary Chinese music. Xiao He currently plays mainly experimental / improvised solo performances throughout China, Europe, and the US, and has become the inventor of a quirky yet moving style of music, described as "mystical and surreal, which abruptly veers from the plaintive cries of Mongolian or Western Chinese music to the barbed and sometimes childlike humor of the avant garde." He is represented by the label Maybe Mars.

Simon Issát Marainen
Composer/ Musician
He is an established Sami culture worker from the village Soppero in the municipality of Kiruna in the far north of Sweden. He works as a yoiker, musician, writer and poet. Simon debuted with his poetry anthologyViidat/Vidin 2006, and has since then contributed to several short story anthologies for the Sami publishing house Davvi Girji. In 2007 and 2008 Simon played the leading role in the musicalLeastadius Uuperanin Pajala, Sweden. He has worked as host on SVT Sápmi, a Sami branch of Swedish Television. During that time Simon wrote and produced radio theatre for kids for the Sami branch of the Swedish radio, UR Sameradion. In 2007 Simon was awarded the Rubus Arcticus grant for 100 000 SEK for his work in culture. He has been awarded several writers grants from both the Swedish and the Norwegian Sami Parliaments. Today Simon is making a living on culture and reindeer husbandry.

Axel Olle Sigurd Andersson
Composer/ Musician
was born in the village of Akkavare in the municipality of Arvidsjaur in the north of Sweden. For the last five years Axel has been working as a producer, songwriter and musician. Axel is a member of seven bands, most of them with a Sami theme. Axel has a six-year long education in the fields of afro and jazz genres and has been touring in the USA, Russia, Indonesia, Scandinavia and Europe. He plays the guitar, drums/percussion, keyboard and bass. He has been funded several times from the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish Sami Parliament and the Finnish Sami council for his music projects and CD productions.

Both Axel and Simon are members of the band ÁRA:

When Sami timelessness meets Nordic harmonies, deep meditative landscapes of sound and new ways of expressing ancient traditions are created.

is an ensemble joined together by the desire of finding new ways of expressing the Sami ”yoik” tradition in music. The band’s members are all experienced musicians, from both Sápmi (the Sami area in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), the Swedish region of Norrbotten as well as other parts of Sweden. The core value of the band and their music is the Sami culture worker and yoiker Simon Issàt Marainen. They create harmonies, rhythms and melodies that have strong connections to both the traditional and the modern. They released their debut album “O” in 2010 and received great response from some of Sweden’s most influential media.