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13/06/2014

Get to know Civil Dance

On his succession to the throne, Li Shimin discussed strategies for national administration with his ministersChina vacation deals. He believed that although he had gained political power by force, he should govern the country by civil virtue. He adopted in both martial and civil approaches according to different times and circumstances. In the emperor's view, in times of peace the emphasis of state governance should be on economic construction and education of the populace.

In 633, the 6th year of the Zhenguan reign and a time of Tang prosperity, Li Shimin went back to his birthplace, Qingshan Palace in Wugong County. He treated his ministers to a grand banquet, and wrote poetry in celebration of prevailing peace and plenty. He also commissioned musicians and choreographers to create the spectacular "Qingshan Dance." This was one of the representative civil dances of the early Tang Dynasty, and reflects Emperor Taizong's theory of governing the country by civil virtue.

In the following decades best tours of China, this civil dance advocated by Emperor Taizong gained popularity and reached its zenith in the early 8th century, during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong.

Both Emperor Xuanzong, named Li Longji, and his concubine Yang Yuhuan had a deep love of music and dance. They married when Li was 56 years old and Yang was 22. The Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat was a romantic, enchanting dance personally choreographed by Li Longji for Yang Yuhuan. He combined emotional mortal love with the magical beauty of the fairy world, rendering a perfect blend of reality and fantasy.

Li Longji was a gifted actor, a talented composer, and a skilled musician. He excelled at the jie-drum (a drum with skin stretched over both ends of its hourglass-shape frame). According to ancient writings, his jie-drum playing hastened the blooming of spring buds and the falling of autumn leaves.

Li Longji gained inspiration for his creation of the Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat dance from gazing at Nu'er Mountain, shrouded in clouds and mists, and traditionally believed to be inhabited by immortals, where he fancied he could see a dancing fairy maiden. The music he composed for this dance was imbued with a spiritual Indian flavor popular China tour packageso as to give full rein to Yang Yuhuan's dancing prowess, as she not only excelled at the stately Han style dance, but was also adept at the more spirited Hu rhythms. This dance called for specific costumes and accessories. The dancer's skirt and embroidered tasseled cape were in the colors of the rainbow, and the long sleeves of her costume flared and billowed as she danced. Her long skirt was decorated with feathers, and her headgear with various ornaments that swayed and tinkled with her every move. Yang Yuhuan's skill was such that after briefly scanning the score, she could execute the dance faultlessly.

The musical instruments played in accompaniment encompassed those of the Central Plains area and of the Western Regions. The music itself is in three main parts and comprises 36 segments. The first part consists of instrument solos, or qing, xiao, zheng and flute ensembles. In the second part, slow-tempo, lyric melodies are sung and danced to, and the third part comprises both slow and up-tempo dances. It was originally intended for just one or two dancers, but gradually evolved into the formation dance performed by hundreds of palace girls.

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