the company / the artists / founder
Willy Tsao

Founder, CCDC

Artistic Director, BeijingDance/LDTX

Council Member, China’s Chinese Dancers Association

Vice Chairman, Guangdong Provincial Dancers Association


Willy Tsao is an influential figure in China’s contemporary dance development as a choreographer, educator, curator, manager and director. Born and educated in Hong Kong, Tsao received his contemporary dance training in the US and an MBA degree from the University of Hong Kong. He was named an Honorary Fellow by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 2000 and received an Honorary Doctorate in 2015.


As a contemporary dance pioneer in Mainland China and Hong Kong, Tsao founded the first and only professional contemporary dance company CCDC in Hong Kong in 1979 and has held the role of artistic director from 1989-2019. In Mainland China, Tsao was a teacher and advisor to the Modern Dance Programme at the Guangdong Dance School from 1987 to 1992 and was named artistic director of China’s first professional contemporary dance company, Guangdong Modern Dance Company, when it was founded by the Guangdong Provincial Government in 1992. He departed the group in 1998 and was invited by the Guangdong Cultural Bureau in 2004 to resume his position until 2016. In Beijing, Tsao had served the Beijing Modern Dance Company as artistic director from 1999 to 2005. In 2005, Tsao established China’s first independent professional contemporary dance company, BeijingDance/LDTX.


Committed to nurturing and developing Chinese contemporary dance groups, Tsao established two contemporary dance exchange platforms, Guangdong Modern Dance Festival and Beijing Dance Festival. Beijing Dance Festival was set up in 2008 with Tsao as artistic director. A popular annual festival, it attracts hundreds of dance artists performing to nearly 10,000 audience members, and is well received by industry practitioners local and abroad.


Tsao also holds several public posts in Mainland China. In 2015, he was appointed as a council member of the China’s Chinese Dancers Association. In 2016, he became the vice chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dancers Association. Tsao also gives lectures and workshops frequently for universities and dance groups in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Changsha, Daqing, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Hefei, Hohhot, Kunming, Nanchang, Nanning, Shanghai, Taiyuan, Urumqi, Wuhan and Xiamen.


Tsao’s contribution to dance has been widely recognised. He has also received numerous awards and honours including, Dancer of the Year Award from the Hong Kong Artists’ Guild in 1988, Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award in 1990, Badge of Honour from HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 1993, Louis Cartier Award of Excellence – Outstanding Choreographer in 1998. In 1999, he was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong SAR Government. He received Distinguished Achievement Award in the 2014 Hong Kong Dance Awards and Life Achievement Award in the 2017 Hong Kong Arts Development Awards for his immense and invaluable achievement and contribution to Hong Kong dance. Tsao was invited by International Theatre Institute (Official Partner of UNESCO) to be the Message Author for Asia-Pacific on International Dance Day 2018.


Since the 1980s, Tsao has created more than 60 works for the dance stage, including Bird Songs, Kunlun, China Wind-China Fire, 365 Ways of Doing and Undoing Orientalism, Wandering in the Cosmos, One Table N Chairs, Sexing Three Millennia, Dao: Extraordinaire, Conqueror, Warrior Lanling and In Search of the Grand View Garden. His choreography has been staged in Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, the US as well as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Taipei.


Photo by Jefu Ha Studio

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