"FIRE AMAZES ME--IT LOOKS SO UNREAL." SAYS 13-YEAR-OLD CHORLOORAPHER LINGJI HON. SHE BEGINS HCP DANCE, FLAME, KNEELING GLUED TO ONE SPOT LIKE A CANDLE. SHE REACHES HER HANDS OUT TO THE AUDIENCE AND DRAWS THEM IN, PUNCTUATING THE WORDS Of HER POEM WITH MOVEMENT THAT LOOKS LIKE A RITUAL OFFERING. THEN, WHEN THE MUSIC BY ASTOR, PIAZZOLLA COMES ON. LINGJI BECOMES THE FIRE THAT SPREADS TO OTHER PARTS OF THE STAGE. SHE STANDS WITH HER ARMS ABOVE HER HEAD LIKE A SPANISH DANCER. SLIDES HER FOOT ALONG THE GROUND. AND SLYLY REGARDS THE AUDENCE, WHEN SHE JUMPS HER ANGULAR JUMPS, SHE'S LIKE FLAME FANNING EVER HIGHER. IT IS A SIZZLING MOMENT.
"FIRE RESEMBLES ANGER," LINGJI TELLS ME BACKSTAGE AFTER THE PERFORMANCE. WHEN SHE MADE THE DANCE. SHE FELT ANGRY AND STRESSED OUT, SHE SAYS, BECAUSE AT THE TIME SHE WAS studying for the entrance exams to get into a specialized high school.
"I'm really shy. I keep a lot inside me. Dance is where I can expose myself and make everyone listen for once." At Flame's end, with a return to her kneeling theme, Lingji imagines that the fire has run out of fuel and diminishes to just a few dying embers. …