Welfare program helps girl realize dancing dream


A screenshot of the documentary  Little Giants made by Bilibili, a video-sharing site.

A video clip of a girl dancing at a pork stall in a village in Southwest China's Yunnan province went viral online, moving many netizens.

Outside the stall, her mom was busy chopping pork while the girl immerses herself in her dance. This is part of a documentary Little Giants made by Bilibili, a video-sharing site.

The girl, 10 years old, is named Wu Gangyun. She lives in Naduo village of Yanshan county in Wenshan autonomous prefecture. The village was identified as a poverty-stricken village in 2013. There were 72 households, and most children here are "left-behind children".

Wu Gangyun is a little luckier. Her father is a truck driver, who is always on the road. Her mom runs the pork stall, where she hangs around and helps a little.

When she was 6 years old, her mom found she liked to watch dancing videos and imitated the moves. "She said she loves ballet and the pretty dresses. My husband and I believe she loves dancing."

The parents decided to send her to dancing classes. Teachers in the county were amazed by what she can do, especially when they learned she taught herself by watching online videos.

"The teachers said she was very talented. They suggested we find a more capable teacher for her," her father said. But it cost more than what the family could afford, and they didn't know where to find such instruction.

In 2018, the mom went to learn driving at a driving school and showed her daughter's dancing videos to her classmates during breaks. The coach said he knew someone from Beijing and contacted Zhang Ping, who has been teaching dancing for 20 years.

Zhang was born in Yanshan county, later living in Beijing. In 2016, she was touched by a photo of girls standing beside a broken wall in Naduo village. So she visited the village and found many girls unattended. Some were left-behind children, while others were orphans.

"The girls were very pretty, and some are talented in dancing. Their parents were not around so I wanted them to have some fun. I brought candies, played with them and taught them dancing," Zhang said.


Zhang Ping teaches dance in Naduo village, Yanshan county, Wenshan autonomous prefecture in Southwest China's Yunnan province, on Nov 21, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Later, she and her husband Guan Yu, a teacher at Beijing Dance Academy, decided to start a program called "Colorful Cloud Plan" to help poor children in mountainous regions change their lives.

Every summer and winter vacation, they come back to Naduo village to teach girls for free. They also invite local teachers and volunteers for free instruction. In 2019, Zhang quit her job in Beijing, set up a training center in the village and put nearly all the couple's savings into the endeavor.

"Ballet is a noble art. A noble spirit is to help disadvantaged groups to fulfill our social responsibility," Guan said at a speech in Tsinghua University.

After watching videos of Wu dancing, Zhang and Guan realized they were witnessing a talent. Soon they went to Wu's home to see her and decided to teach her.

"She is the most talented girl I have met during my 30 years' of teaching," Guan said. "She is like a rare jade presented to me, and I feel flustered because I fear I can't help her to get to the level I had hoped for."

Since then, Wu Gangyun went to learn dancing with Zhang every weekend. Guan would fly to the village from Beijing to teach them during winter and summer vacation.

In October 2019, Wu Gangyun and other girls in the "Colorful Cloud Program" performed on the stage of CCTV. It was the first time for them to take trains or planes, visit a big city and performed on stage. Guan and Zhang also took them to visit Beijing Dance Academy.

"I want to be a dancer in the future and I want to be a person like teacher Zhang," said Wu Gangyun.

Over the years, the "Colorful Cloud Program" has helped 62 children from 17 villages get recruited by art schools in Yunnan. The couple also found ways to cover tuition fees and living expenses.

"If we don't train them, they would go feeding pigs or herding cattle. Now they can at least earn a secondary school diploma," Zhang Ping said. She said she hopes the children can help more people in the mountainous region, and function as dandelion seeds.

Copyright @Kunming Information Hub 2019. All Rights Reserved. E-mail:inkunmingnews@gmail.com