How to Perfect Classical Chinese Dance Like a Pro
By Tien Chen.
When thinking of Classical Chinese Dance, the image of little girls with two high braids in little red costumes twirling some hankies may be the first thing that pops into your mind. That’s completely normal! Classical Chinese Dance is one of the world’s oldest art forms as China has been thriving for about 5,000 years. But today, it has become a highly misunderstood art form that is commonly thought as simple; but it holds many aspects that are not known to the public today. Chinese Classical Dance is not just simple movements of waving two little ribbons, rather it is one of the most complex forms of dance in the world that comes with its own systematic training.
Do you think you have what it takes to master this beloved art form? Here are the five most crucial fundamentals you MUST achieve in order to succeed and perfect Classical Chinese Dance!
I can not stress enough how important this factor is. Most professional dancers are selected at a young age to begin their training—this is because you will feel less pain when you’re younger. It takes hours and hours of repetition and motivation to be able to stretch properly and achieve flexibility. Without this you can kiss Chinese Classical Dance goodbye, for almost every move in this art form is bounded by the use of flexibility—unlike ballet, which requires you to be more stiff. So without this crucial factor, you will not be able to move on to higher levels.
Many movements in this art form requires you to be fast and crisp. Think little pixies! Not only do you have to be flexible, you need to be able to apply those movements in swift motions to match with the tempo of the music. Your flips and leaps have to be clean and light! Flexibility definitely helps A LOT for this aspect. It helps reduce the ‘clumsy dancer’ factor. Even when you have a slow-paced song, always try to be light on the feet and make those moves crispy! You have to find the balance between the pop and the fall and melt the moves together so it’ll be pleasing to the eye.
Now that I have demystified the big two must-dos, it’s time to learn the most basic move that is used in EVERY Classical Chinese Dance: float! No, I’m not asking you to suddenly defy gravity and ascend into the clouds! I’m teaching you a simple movement of the feet—which, if you do it right, you will look like you’re floating on air. Crazy, right? If you’re walking around, shaking the ground, making it feel like an earthquake hit and the floors are about to collapse, you’re doing it wrong. Think flowing water: you’re gliding across the dance floor, silent as the night and graceful as the shooting stars. This is the main transitional movement and it is a Classical Chinese Dance special movement. So it is very important to learn on your road to success!
A Classical Chinese Dancer will be able to do any movements anywhere. We practice every day to find our core, to find the balance of our bodies. And we practice again and again and again. This is very important because there are many movements that require you to be able to balance on one leg or hold a position for a very long time. Without proper training for your core balance, you will not be able to achieve many of the still movements in this art form. So, I suggest you start balancing on one leg on a rock!
THIS is the secret ingredient to your recipe of success: inner peace. Sounds like I’m training you for Kung Fu panda or something! But no, this is the key factor to your success in conquering this art form. You need to find peace to overlook the pain from practicing flexibility. You need to find peace to be light on your feet during quick movements. You need to find peace to be able to walk on air. And lastly, how can you balance if you have no peace? As hard as Classical Chinese Dance may seem to you now, it is not completely unachievable. All you need is a little time, a little patience, and a lot of motivation. Just follow my tips and you’ll be on your way to becoming a professional dancer! Don’t forget to check out the shows at Shen Yun Performing Arts. And when you do go, you’ll understand the work the dancers must put in in order to create the unique and beautiful shows that will touch your heart!
Tien Chen is a former dancer for Shen Yun Performing Arts Dancer. Follow her on Instagram.