Chinese Traditional Festival Activities

Lion Dance and Dragon Dance

Lions live in Africa and South America. After the han Dynasty, it was introduced into China. It is generally accepted that Lion Dance came into being as long ago as in the Three Kingdom, which was initially prevalent in the army and spread among the ordinary people afterwards. Lion dance is a game very popular with the ordinary people. It usually appears in towns and villages on the Spring Festival and idolatrous processions, adding much to the joyous festive air. The Southern Lion Dance (gentle lion dance). Violent lion dance attaches importance to the martial arts with nimble movements and high techniques. While gentle Lion dance focuses on facial expressions with exquisite movements which strives to depict lion’s docile and lovely bearings and dynamic, frolicsome character.

Dragon dance is the vestige of totem worship in ancient times. The performance was not only to pray for rain and offer sacrifices but also to entertain.

During the Tang and Song periods, dragon lantern dance already became ordinary artistic forms in the performance of traditional programs of shehuo (a religious procession) and team dance. Dragon dance, in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, was listed among folk festival entertainments with peculiar flavor.

Waist Drum Dance

Waist-drum dance (see picture 15-2) boasts a long-standing tradition and enjoys great popularity in Ansai, northern Shaanxi Province. Characterized by a variety of drumbeats and accompanied with folk songs, percussion instruments and wind instruments, the unique Ansai drum dancing can be generally classified into “soft- swing dancing” and “martial arts dancing.” The performance scene is quite impressive with diversified arrays which integrate dance, song, gymnastics and vigorous martial arts movements. It serves as a display of the traits in the character of northern Shaanxi villagers, who are known far and wide as being valiant and heroic. Sometimes the number of performers may reach several hundred. The imposing scene is full of grandeur with a great momentum.