Step Aside, Zumba: Is Chinese Dance the Upcoming Fitness and Grace Craze?
Following the, ahem, steps of the popular Zumba craze, other cultural dance classes have cropped up in the international fitness scene. Recently, while lingering in the rabbit hole that is Facebook videos, we chanced upon this group of lithe, graceful dancers, their skins glowing in sweat, their moves reminiscent of tai chi. The video didn’t come with details of the wheres and the whats but the group’s fine, almost ballet-like movements, their elegance and joy, pushed us to ask around what exactly the class is called. We wanted to use something more specific than the umbrella term Chinese dance, and asked eminent dancers and Chinese friends to weigh in—but alas, there turns out to be no known designation.
As opposed to the more hard-hitting and fast-paced beats in modern dance, or the rigid movements in traditional ballet, this kind of Chinese choreography employs fluid and continuous circular motions. Its gestures tend to mimic the behavior organic of natural elements—the flowing wind, the swaying of trees in the breeze, the gentle undulations of ocean waves—even if your dance tells the story of that two-timing goatherd’s son.
But like ballet, Chinese dance is a systematic art form, focusing on the correct bodily positions, bearing, and technical skill. As a fitness and wellness activity however, it’s not as demanding. The point is to have fun with fellow dance lovers, like this class dancing to Ni Zen Me Shou (How Would You Say). They used to sing this song in ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy), said one of the ladies we asked to identify the video.
If you’re not particularly fond of awkward fast-paced steps that cause you to melt into a puddle of sweat in five minutes, it looks like this may be the dance for you. It’s clearly slower and more deliberate.
This Chinese dance also evokes the postures of yoga in that it seems to require you to abide by certain forms and positions. Great way to center your mind with the gentle transitions between poses. But I don’t think you need to contort your body into a pretzel to do this well.
As mentioned, some of these dancer’s forms are similar to the martial art T'ai chi ch'üan. Because of the deliberate movements, dancing this way may be great for meditation.
Another perk we personally love about this is that by learning a country’s traditional dance, you’re teaching your body to appreciate its culture: the physical gestures, the nuances, and the music.
It’s practically second nature to us Filipinos to enjoy Chinese food, language, medicine, beliefs, and businesses. So why not add their dance to our list as well, right? After all, it looks vibrant and calming at the same time, both for the dancer and the audience.
Chinese choreography classes are widely held abroad in some parts of Hong Kong and Taiwan, so the next time you visit there, you might want to give them a try. And while there aren’t any local dance studios offering lessons for now, you may contact the Philippine Chinese Education Research Center where they may offer specialized dance workshops usually in the summer. If you can Zumba, you can do this!
Cover photo by Romanen on Pixabay
Thumbnail photo by Kevin Shin