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Chinese Folk Art: Dragon Dance

2016-07-13 13:05:39Share:

  Dragon dance (舞龙) is a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture. Like the lion dance it is most often seen in festive celebrations.


  The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon. The dance team mimics the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner.


  The dragon dance is often performed during Chinese New Year. Chinese dragons are a symbol of China, and they 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.

Chinese Folk Art: Dragon Dance


  The dragons are believed to possess qualities that include great power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness. The appearance of a dragon is both fearsome and bold but it has a benevolent disposition, and it was an emblem to represent imperial authority. The movements in a performance traditionally symbolize historical roles of dragons demonstrating power and dignity.


  The dragon is a long serpentine body formed of a number of sections on poles, with a dragon head and a tail. The dragon is assembled by joining the series of hoops on each section and attaching the ornamental head and tail pieces at the ends.


  Traditionally, dragons were constructed of wood, with bamboo hoops on the inside and covered with a rich fabric, however in the modern era lighter materials such as aluminium and plastics have replaced the wood and heavy material.


  Dragons can range in length from around 25 to 35 meters for the more acrobatic models, and up to 50 to 70 meters for the larger parade and ceremonial styles. The size and length of a dragon depend on the human power available, financial power, materials, skills and size of the field.

Chinese Folk Art: Dragon Dance


  A small organization cannot afford to run a very long dragon because it requires considerable human power, great expenses and special skills which are difficult to manage.


  The normal length and size of the body recommended for the dragon is 112 feet (34 meters) and is divided into 9 major sections. The distance of each minor (rib-like) section is 14 inches apart; therefore, the body has 81 rings. Many may also be up to 15 sections long, and some dragons are as long as 46 sections.


  Occasionally dragon with far more sections may be constructed in Chinese communities around the world to produce longest dragon possible, since part of the myth of the dragon is that the longer the creature, the more luck it will bring. The current record of the longest dragon stands at over 5 km long.


  Historically the dragon dance may be performed in a variety of ways with different types and colors of dragon. Green is sometimes selected as a main color of the dragon, which symbolizes a great harvest.


  Other colors include: yellow symbolizing the solemn empire, golden or silver colors symbolizing prosperity, red color representing excitement while its scales and tail are mostly beautiful silver colors and glittering at all times which provides a feeling of joyous atmosphere.


  As the Dragon dance is not performed every day, the cloth of the dragon is to be removed and to have a new touch of ultra-paint before the next performance.

The Imperial Gardens