Traditional folk dances carry their own individual and unique charm. They feature the deep cultural imprints of their mother nation, embedded into each movement, to ultimately express the spirit of its people. Folk dances tell the story of a people, enacted by those people. The fan dance from China is a great example of this in action.
The fan dance; an example of harmonious coordination and the spirit of teamwork
The fan dance features a smooth choreography of multiple dancers utilizing skillful body movements to paint a picture, enhanced by the use of an array of different fans as props. This delicate dance can fascinate and entrance any audience.
The Fan dance is known to be a team dance that requires a very high level of teamwork and coordination. A dance team consists of a minimum of 6 participants but usually consists of closer to 10-12 people. It is because of the high number of dancers involved that good teamwork and smooth cooperation is a prerequisite for the dance.
The costumes are simple in order for the fan to be accentuated, the color of the fan should harmonize with the overall color of the piece. For example, long chiffon gowns with light natural textures work to embellish the fan.
As a prop, the fan is also customized for each show as per the requirement of the choreographer. In a welcoming spring piece, or in a piece describing the welcoming of spring flower petals, the fan is usually designed with a silky tip. On stage, it will appear as soft and gentle as a butterfly in spring. This type of fan is one of the most commonly used for dance troupes.
But there is also a very large and wide-spreading fan shape. Its diameter can spread to half a meter or more. This type of fan is often difficult to use, and it can, if poorly used, undermine the grace of the dancers. However, its specification is still fit for certain circumstances. This type of fan is often used as a prop for a single or small group of dancers.
Another style is a fan made from chiffon fabric. A cloth of chiffon fabric attached to the fan frame extends for up to 1 meter in length. This type of fan is however rarely used today.
Group dances are usually choreographed today, to create a spectacular beauty, with meticulous effort in costumes, props, and practice, and portray with great effect the theme they are depicting. Due to this, fan dance performances often produce a captivating effect.
The origin of the fan dance
Traditional fan dances originate from China. China is considered to be the birthplace of the most outstanding and influential folk dance pieces, that have a strong impact on many countries across the region.
Perhaps so, the idea and the message of each dance is very important, so viewers easily recognize the deep meaning of the dance as soon as it starts. For example, the performances for spring include the beauty of new petals, the birth of the butterfly, or the image of spring flowers exposed in the sunshine. Audiences are stunned by Spring performances and feel the exuberant joy of the new life that Springtime brings reflected in the dance.
It can be said that Chinese fan dance is still considered the most impressive performance but despite this, other countries in the region have celebrated fan dances that effectively cultivate a joyous response.
In Korea, fan dances are mesmerizingly attractive and widely celebrated. Fan dance is always welcome at large celebrations and is performed in traditional events across the country.
In Vietnam, fan dance has also been well known and well received as a folk art for a long time. It, as in the other countries that it features as an art form, depicts local themes, traditions, and celebrations.
The beauty of fan dances captivates the audience’s heart when watched live on stage. No matter which country’s traditions are being performed, it is an art form that remains one of the most emotionally touching displays to watch. It thrills audiences with magnificent natural settings of flowers or butterflies and mirrors these fluttering brilliances with the fluttering elegance of the fan itself.