Showcasing the Arts

August/September 2019 Featured Artist:
Shuling Fister


Shuling Fister
In 2018, Shuling Fister received a Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant to teach apprentice dancer Angie Xiao. Fister maintains a dance studio with several students, and continues to develop her own performance practice with frequent trips to China to study under native masters there.

I am a Chinese dance choreographer, founder and artistic director of Shuling Studio. I have had a passion for dance all of my life. I graduated from Jiangxi Medical College and worked at hospitals for 10 years in China. During that time, I continued to train with professional dance instructors and competed in both Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces. I moved to the United States in 1997 as a Visiting Scholar then obtained a Master of Science degree from the University of Kentucky. I have continued my dance development with Chinese dance masters and professors by frequently returning to China. To strengthen my knowledge and explore the similarities and differences between Chinese dance and western dance, I also studied modern, jazz, ballet and choreography at the University of Kentucky.

In Kentucky, I have been actively engaged with cultural arts activities for the past two decades. I am a member of the Kentucky Arts Council adjudicated Performing and Teaching Artists directories and have received the arts council’s Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant to teach traditional Chinese dance to an apprentice. I truly hope the living arts will pass on and reach more people in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I have directed a variety of Chinese dance concerts and performed at many institutes including the University of Kentucky, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Alice Lloyd College and Midway University. We have also showcased Chinese dance numerous times at public libraries, schools, and festivals for diversity and cultural programs. In fall of 2018, Shuling Studio joined University of Kentucky’s Department of Theatre and Dance and the Confucius Institute to present an east-meets-west themed dance concert “Crossing Boundaries,” hailed by the audience as a unique cross cultural dialogue presented simply through dance. I teach Chinese dance as a guest artist in the University of Kentucky’s College of Fine Arts and served as a guest choreographer at Fayette County’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

In addition to my passion for dance, I am a medical research scientist at UK’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. I find that the beauty of Chinese dance brings out a person’s joy, opens expression and promotes physical as well as mental well-being. Participation in dance activities not only promotes cultural awareness but makes the brain stay active, creative, and perhaps even delays the aging process for adults. I am currently a board member at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center. I also cooperate with a network of local professional artists, choreographers, photographers and organizations. Joining the community to promote the arts has become my interest in recent years. I have been very fortunate to have an extremely supportive family who is always there for me.

Shuling Fister is a 2016 recipient of the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship in choreography.

Artist’s statement:

As an ethnic dance choreographer and educator, I love to illustrate a story through Chinese dance and make a connection across cultures and pass the emotion and joy to Western audiences. To bring the history of several dynasties to life, the creative process is always challenging and exciting. My work includes multiple elements, such as folk, opera, martial arts and modern dance. There are 56 ethnic groups in China, each with its own tradition and dance. While keeping the original identity of a dance genre, I explore a potential path that combines cultural elements and blend it with Western dance elements. The colorful props and costumes I utilize in my productions play an important role as many of the elements of the costumes have cultural significance. Props such as ribbons, fans and lanterns sometimes can be the medium to carry the past to present, or a bridge to connect east and west by providing textural interest. As a performer and an educator, I have a passion to act as a cultural ambassador through Chinese dance.


Shuling Fister
Lexington, Ky.

Phone: 859-229-7274


Page last updated: August 1, 2019
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