Dancing around the world
February 2006, Shanghai
Image: Chinese New Year
Gung-Hay-Fat-Choy! Happy New Year from China!! We are currently in Shanghai, one of China’s largest cities, and have been celebrating the Chinese New Year which was on the 29 January, almost a whole month after Britain celebrates their New Year. The Chinese New Year is at a different time to Britain because Chinese months are arranged by the lunar calendar which means that they are arranged around the pattern of the moon. Did you know that each year is named after one of 12 different animals? Legend has it that many years ago Buddha asked all the animals to meet him at New Year and when 12 came he named a year after each one!
Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival which includes the Dragon Dance – our favourite part of the New Year celebrations. The Dragon was enormous (about 150 feet long) and was made of silk, bamboo and papier mache and has paintings down each side. The heads are massive and it is thought that they defend against evil and bring happiness and luck in the new year. Young dancers carry the dragon through Shanghai and the dragon’s movements are controlled by lifting and dipping the head, body and tail. Their quick and lively movements make the huge dragon seem alive. Some of the movement patterns of the dragon dance are called Cloud Cave, Whirlpool Tai-Chi pattern, Threading the money, Looking for pearl, dragon vomiting the pearl and dragon encircling the pillar. Some of the footwork looked very complicated and the performers had to keep the same time as each other to keep the Dragon moving realistically. The Dragon Dance seemed all about team-work and there were over 50 people involved! What a spectacular performance.
We will write again next month.