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Dragon Dance
The dragon dance is a kind of folk dance. The players in the dragon dance take coordinated and rhythmic steps and perform to the music of loud gongs and drums. The atmosphere is reinforced by the applause of the audience and the glimmering light. The dragon dance is spectacular and impressive due to the magnificent scene it sets its diversified characteristics and outstanding performance.
The dragon dance is the most spectacular dance performed during the New Year. The dragon is a totem of the Chinese nation. Chinese consider dragons to be friendly and helpful creatures associated with strength, good fortune, wisdom and longevity, who can make clouds and bring them rain. People hope that by dancing the dragon dance it will bring favorable weather and driveghosts out. Therefore, the custom goes on.
The longer the dragon, the more luck it will bring to the community. As a result, communities strive to have very long dragons dancing during the New Year. Some dragons are so long that they require twenty or thirty people to hold up the tail. Over 2,000 years, the dragon has turned from a symbol of a deity, the emperor and imperial power into a symbol of the Chinese nation. The Dragon Dance, accordingly, has been elevated from asking the gods for rain to expressing people's courage, pride and wisdom.
The dragons are made into different forms, such as the cloth dragon, grass dragon, fire dragon, bamboo dragon, paper dragon, and wooden-stool dragon. The dance accordingly has diversified models and forms. The cloth dragon has a separate dragon head and body, which are connected by cloth. The longer the dragon is, the more performers there are. One person uses a pearl-like prop to lead the dragon. The dragon will rise or fall, slowly or rapidly. Sometimes, it flies up to the sky, and sometimes it hides under the ocean and breaking waves.
The fire dragon is made with candles put into each section of the dragon body. When performed at night, firecrackers are set off. It makes an excellent scene of the fire dragon shuttling back and forth among the fireworks.
The grass dragon, also called the 'burning incense dragon', is made from rice straw and green vines, with sticks of burning incense inserted into it. Performed during summer nights, the dragon is like a meteor attracting a lot of insects. When the performance is over, the dragon is put into a pool to drown the insects. Therefore, performing with the grass dragon helps get rid of insects.
Drums, cymbals and gongs are parts of the dragon dance. The drummer acts as a conductor and sets the rhythm for the other instrument players to follow. As the drummer beats faster, the ensemble also beats faster and louder. Drum-rolls and gongs may be heard from New Year's Day all the way to the 15th day of the first lunar month.
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