2019 is right upon us, for me, it just reminds me of the fact that it has been ten years since Chinese dance came into my life.
Almost one decade ago, I first set my foot into the dancing school in Hunan, China. My path was originally planned to stick to dancing, which was my greatest passion back then, but the intention of being a dancer was intercepted 3 years later. Ever since then, Chinese dancing and I have grown further and further apart.
But to me, it has always been the most beautiful form of dance. So today, I want to introduce you the most elegant and tasteful dance that you might have never come into contact before, but it is definitely worth taking a look.
The way it is created is bounded with Chinese culture and history. I assume that you all know there were so many dynasties in the long chain of history of China, unsurprisingly each era has its own unique characteristics. For example, the way people dressed, their roles in the social hierarchy, their instrumental development and so forth. All of these can be the inspiration for a dancer or choreographist to make up a whole new piece that is designed to tell a story of one particular time.
It can be a melancholy piece about how a young girl relentlessly putting her makeup on just so her lover could come home and see the prettiest of her, or it could be a lively description of the student life in the ancient days. Of course, stories about those mighty and heroic souls who fought the enemies can also be found in their some works.
Dancing is often described as a way to express yourself without saying it, and that precisely is why I find this form of dancing exceptionally fascinating. As we can all acknowledge that China had always been a very patriarchal society, that means women's opinions were definitely not something that could be taken in account and therefore no chance for them to speak out, so quite often they express themselves in different ways, like dancing, painting, composing and many others. As the privileged ones who live in the modern world, we are able to understand the thought in their minds by practicing or watching these pieces and discover the beauty of the old days.
Every part of the body of dancers is strictly ruled. For instance, how to blink, how to look, when to look, where to look, how to post your hands and how to move your feet. Because this is an intricate art and every detail matters. A stellar piece of dance requires both the high-standard technique demonstration and the perfect illustration of the story.
The way we were trained, was very much like ballet, pointing toes, stretching legs, long arms up in the air. They both share the extreme pursuit towards perfection, but with this particular one, a pinch of Chinese ancient elegance is added into it.
There is a saying in Chinese: one minute of being on stage, ten years of practice under the stage. For me, no exaggeration is in it.
In terms of the size of a dance, it can be a one-person show or a piece requiring many boys and girls. But in the dancing world, it is a common knowledge that only a one-man show can fully examine the capability of a dancer. Therefore only the most extraordinary one among the whole class can enjoy the privilege of having the whole stage and audience to herself/ himself. In the meantime, a piece that involves more dancers, the requirements are relatively lower for each individual, but they are usually more visually palatable.
Although this part of me was left in China so many years ago, my love for Chinese dance has never faded away and it never will.