As a comprehensive art form, dance is an important part of the ancient Chinese term “Yue”, since Yue in Chinese includes several elements such as poems, songs, dances and music. Chinese dance has its own unique vocabulary, meanings, and ordered structure that enable a dancer to fully express his thoughts and feelings with ease and grace.
The art of Chinese dance traces its origins to a time before the appearance of the first written Chinese characters. The ancient dance of China went through embryo and childhood stages in a primitive society. It became ripe around the Bronze Age. A study of ceramic artifacts with depictions of dancing figures reveals that people of the Neolithic Yangshao culture of around the fourth millennium B.C. already had choreographed group dances in which the participants locked arms and stamped their feet while singing to instrumental accompaniment.
Through further development in the Feudal society, especially after the Han Dynasty, the dance culture reached its peak in the Tang Dynasty. After the Song Dynasty, it entered a transformation period as a result of the changes in the entire art field.
Chinese dance possesses numerous types. Each nationality, each region and each type of dance carry its own folk dance forms with unique features and flavors. Folk dances directly reflect the lifestyles and customs of a people, and though their are numerous folk dances, each and everyone is an invaluable part of China’s cultural heritage. Yet it is also easy to discover that Chinese dance is actually an integral body with common spirits and views. The frequent communication and assimilation between different ethnic groups and regions, the different dance fields between entertainment for others and self-entertainment, professional and amateur, religious and worldly, royal and grassroots, etc., have all melted and become one in another. Dances for rituals, performances, social contacts, education, clans, trades, etc., all take up an important and indispensable place in the garden of dances….
Here is a list of distinctive dances that are worth appreciation and enjoyment at up most.
Classic Folk Dance – Fans and ribbons may be the stereotypical image that appears in many of our minds when we hear about Chinese cultural dance; in fact it mean much more than images….
Popular Yangge – During the season in winter, people of Han nationality in villages in northern Shanxi begin doing the yangge dance and waist drum dancing in order to greet Spring Festival (first day of the first lunar month) and Lantern Festival (15th of the first lunar month).
Uygur Folk Dances – Uyghurs in Xinjiang are known for their skill in singing and dancing on festive days and at gatherings of friends and relatives. Their lively dances demonstrate diligence, bravery, openness and optimism and distinguished by head and wrist movements. Their clever coordination is enhanced by the typical posture of tilted head, thrust chest and erect waist. The dances, Sanam in particular, express the Uygurs’ feelings and character.
Tibetan Dances – Nearly Tibetans can sing anytime for any event and dance at festivals, weddings, gatherings and during their spare time. From historical writings we can see that more than a thousand years ago folk religious and sorcerers’ dances were very popular in Tibet.
Miao Dance – The Miao (also known as Hmong) people of southwestern China developed a lively form of antiphonal, or responsive, singing and competitive dance.
Dai Dances – The folk dances of Dai nationality enjoy not only wide popularity but great diversity. Most of them imitate the movements of subtropical creatures. Known as Galuoyong, Fanluoyong or Gananyong, Peacock Dance is the best loved dance of the Dais.
Gaoshan Dance – Due to the influence of the their island environment, the aborigines of Taiwan created hand-holding line dances as part of a harvest ritual.
Ballet in China – The development of modern Chinese dance has taken on a dynamic personality. Usually, young people going into dance study ballet and modern dance first, then they study the technique and syntax of traditional Chinese dance. From there they seek out new directions for Chinese style body expressions and movements with an open mind for experimentation. Since about 1970, the original and unique compositions of young dancers have occasioned a renaissance in Chinese dance….
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