Sunday 12 October 2014

Chinese Dragon Dance Workshop

As part of their topic work on the Shang Dynasty, Year 5 experienced a Dragon dance workshop. Like the lion dance, it is most often seen in festive celebrations. During the day, our pupils got to form teams of dancers to manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon. Using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon, the children could mimic the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner.

"I learnt that in China, dragons are believed to bring good luck to people. Therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community." Luis Bone 

"Our teacher told us that the dragons are believed to possess qualities that include great power, dignity, fertility & wisdom." Reese Wager 

The culmination of the day was the chance to perform in front of the Year 4 & Year 6 pupils. Both classes - Elm & Willow - gave one Dragon Dance & one Ribbon Dance.

"It was a great chance for the children to really experience some key elements of Chinese culture. Unless you get to hear the music and take part in the dance it is very hard to appreciate it" Miss Reynolds

Originally the ribbon dance was associated with the legend of man who tried to kill the emperor. Aman named "Hsiang po" saved the life of the emperor by blocking the sword with his sleeve. The people of the Han dynasty designed a sleeve dance to remember him with gratitude. The dancers hold short ribbons in their hands. The ribbons symbolize the sleeve of "Hsiang po".

During the Tang dynasty the ribbon dance changed as long colorful ribbons started to be used. The dancers add the beauty of the dance form by attaching a long silk ribbon to a stick. The movement of the ribbons can create beautiful movements like the movements of a wandering dragon and beautiful rainbows in the sky. The beauty of the ribbon dance is enhanced by powerful expression of emotions.

"I'd never really listened to Chinese music before. The music we used for the ribbon dance was very calm and peaceful." George White

"It was quite hard to avoid tripping and stepping on the ribbon. To keep it flowing the whole time made my arms really sore!" Zaima Abidin

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