Traditional Chinese Dance

Phenomenal performers are entertaining crowds at the Lantern Festival each night! Classic styles of Chinese performing art are being showcased right here in Syracuse. But, there’s even more to be discovered when it comes to Chinese culture!

In this post, we’ll highlight two of the more iconic Traditional Chinese dances: The Lion Dance and the Fan Dance.

Lion Dance (Chinese: 舞狮; pinyin: wǔ shī)

Lion Dance is a very prevalent traditional performing art in China. In this symbolic dance performance, two performers hide behind a lion costume and mimic a lion’s movement. Lion Dance is commonly seen during Chinese New Year, opening ceremonies for businesses, wedding celebrations, and special occasions amongst the Chinese communities.

However, a dance is not quite a dance without music. The music that usually pairs with the lion dance is often a combination of heavy drum beats, cymbals, and gongs. Each beat guides the lion’s actions and movements. The loud and festive music is accompanied by flaming firecrackers! But even with this vibrant and joyous scene, it would be challenging to get into the groove alongside the lion. Find out why later today.

The instruments used for lion dance music, especially gongs, were traditionally used to clear the way for important processions or to alert the crowd, much like a police siren today. The tempo, the flow of the music, and the crashing sensation made by the instrument are so energy-filled. They are so jam-packed with energy that we don’t simply break it down, we “kong fu” it up. Yes Kong Fu. The professional lion dance performers are usually martial artists. They present the artistic aspect of the lion dance in addition to the acrobatic skills that enable them to hop on and off moving platforms and teeny tiny poles.

Fan Dance (Chinese:扇子舞; pinyin: shàn zi wǔ)

Fan Dance has been an expressive art form in China for approximately 3000 years. The dance originated from Chaoxian, (Chinese:朝鲜; pinyin: cháo xiǎn) a minority group, which is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China. Fan Dance traditionally has been performed by groups of female dancers. In the dance performance, the dancers in lavish costumes represented various designs and shapes using large fans made of colorful silk or satin. The most common of these depicted images were birds, peacocks, flowers, butterflies and waves.

Because of the extravagant expression of color and shape, Fan Dance has been adopted across China by various ethnic groups. Even current pop culture in China, and in Asia at large, still incorporates Fan Dance through performance and inspiration.

Where might you be able to find a group of dancers like this in the U.S.? Kid you not, we actually have a dance group here in Syracuse! They performed their breathtaking Fan Dance number at 2016 Moon Fest Gala this past fall at the Rock Center.

Join the Fun!

This summer, we will be having a professional ethnic dancer from Taiwan join us for Session 1 of the 2017 Chinese Culture Camp. She will be choreographing both a Lion Dance and a Fan Dance for campers to perform. Join us this July to enrich your cultural knowledge and have a blast learning these dances!

Click here for more information on the 2017 Chinese Culture Camp!

If you’re ready to go to camp, click here to enroll today!