china: a lesson in dance
Colourful, graceful and shrouded in century-old traditions, Chinese dance is an art form that is gaining popularity the world over. There’s no better place to witness one of its many than while travelling in China. Here, the costumes, stories and legends come to life and, as Intrepid’s Cathy Shi explains, you get a taste of China’s multilayered history…
“When you think of China you don’t necessarily think of dancing. Yet, dance has a long history here. In fact, a 5000-year-old piece of pottery unearthed in Qinghai’s Datong County was decorated in the picture of three people dancing, confirming just how long dance has been around in China.
It’s impossible to define Chinese dance as simply one form with each of China’s 55 ethnic groups having their own rich and distinctive dance traditions. Nearly 1,000 folk dances are still performed throughout the country, and the Han are home to some of the country’s most famous, including the yang, dragon, lion, flowerdrum and lantern dances. The lantern dance is particularly spectacular, with dancers performing graceful movements while holding colourful lanterns in their hands. Other standout dances include the Tibetan xianzi dance, where dancers wave their long sleeves to the hypnotic music and the Yi people’s courting dance that includes lots of hand clapping. Others include the sainaimu dance, an enthusiastic uygur dance with its characteristic neck movements, the Dai people’s graceful peacock dance, marked by the undulations of the waist and the Miao people’s reed pipe dance. And this few are just the tip of the iceberg – there
As China increases its international cultural exchanges, more and more Chinese dancers are participating in a wide variety of international dancing contests with gratifying results. Individual Chinese dancers and Chinese dancing troupes have visited many countries in the world and many famous foreign dancers and dancing organisations have performed in China.
So if you’re planing a trip to China, make sure you put seeing a Chinese dance performance high on your list of things to do. This ancient art form is sure to enthral you and show you a different perspective of Chinese culture.”
* photo by Scott Walsh – Intrepid Photography Competition