Ribbon Dancing

“On earth no feast lasts forever.” -Chinese proverb

But sometimes you wish it could. Over the weekend, there was a Taiwanese American Heritage Week festival. (Taiwanese American Heritage Week starts every Mother’s Day weekend in most major cities.) The L.A. one featured folk dance, aboriginal music, Taiwanese food, and more.

As a child, I loved seeing performances of the ribbon dance. Women would sway to traditional music, making the swirls of ribbon fly into the air. Originating in the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-420 A.D.) it was first performed for royalty. Sometimes I imagined myself on stage imitating their graceful motions. I think there was a cultural group for children, but I never tried out.

ribbon dance The closest I got was at a summer camp, where we were encouraged to put on a talent show. My group wanted something cultural and decided to do a candle dance. (One of the members was Thai and taught us the movements.) It was a flowing and peaceful dance, our palms cradling glass votives with lit candles (I don’t know what our counselors were thinking). Everything went really well until the finale, when we posed one behind the other.  We arranged ourselves at different heights, with the tallest standing and the shortest kneeling. We tilted our arms, one up and one down–and then muttered a collective “ouch” as the melted candle wax dripped onto ourselves or (worse!) the next girl in line.

Any neat dance memories for you?

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  1. I admire ribbon dancers. Although I love to dance and have fond memories of dance parties, I never took dance lessons and never performed in a dance recital. But put some music and I’m on the floor!

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      I actually took a few dance lessons over the years, from hula to ballroom. My first experience was in elementary school where we were made to learn square dancing.

  2. Ribbon dancing is just amazing! So beautiful. I feel like I would totally trip over them.-Ashley

  3. Ribbon dancing is mesmerizing. Beautiful!

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