Artsource - Lily Cai

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The Music Center’s Study Guide to the Performing Arts















Title of Work:

About the Artwork:

The Flying Goddess: T’ang Dynasty (619-907) The Fan Dance: Ch’ing (Qing) Dynasty (1644-1912)

Chinese civilization, which is over 5,000 years old, has both classical and folk dance. There are many dialects spoken in China and the cultural differences of these groups are expressed in their music, art and folk dances. Chinese classical dance reflects the philosophy and aesthetics of each dynasty of Emperors. The circle is the guiding principle upon which these dances are based. Ms. Cai has selected two classical dances which show a contrast between dynasties. A golden age for culture, the T’ang Dynasty, is represented by The Flying Goddess - the flying and floating of the ribbon representing a goddess. The aesthetics of this dynasty were based on the concept that beauty was full and round and the costumes were transparent to reveal the outline of the body. In contrast, bodies were completely covered in the Ch’ing dynasty and the movements were more reserved. This dance uses a fan to highlight the dancer’s elegance, beauty and reserved feminity.

Creator: Lily Cai - born in the Chinese Year of the Sheep (Ram)

Background Information: Lily Cai, a Chinese-American, preserves her traditional Chinese culture by performing ancient classical court dances. Born in Shanghai, she began to study dance at the Children’s Palace when she was five. As she matured, her talent became evident and she was selected to study with special teachers.This new training was very difficult and required great discipline, patience and perseverance. However, she states that “dance is my nature and I made myself into a dancer as a career.” Her training required strength of character; she was challenged physically, as well as through her mind and spirit. In 1966, the Cultural Revolution suppressed traditional ways and her classical dance study was forbidden. She remembers that everyone on the street was fighting and students dropped out of school to promote the writings of Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. At this time, all the people learned a Revolutionary Dance. It required no technique, but used movements designed to make everyone feel powerful and determined to make change. Mao’s wife, Chiang Ch’ing, took charge of the cultural expression in the performing arts, allowing only five ideologically pure revolutionary stories, or themes, to be presented. Ms. Cai danced in these productions as a principal dancer with the Shanghai Opera House. In 1970, she was able to resume her life’s work. She immigrated to the U.S. and settled in San Francisco where she teaches and performs. In fact, she produced the first performance in Chinatown to feature Chinese dance.

Creative Process of the Artist or Culture: Near Tun-Huang, there are more than 100 caves covered with elegant paintings depicting the Buddhist vision of paradise. Ms. Cai has matched the styles and colors of her costumes to those found in the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. She connects us to the people and aesthetics of these ancient cultures through dance. Photo: Lee Hanson

“Different dances are like different dialects. They show variations in expression.” Lily Cai


Discussion Questions: After the video has been viewed: • What words would you use to describe each dance? • What were the differences between the two dances? List the differences. List any similarities. • How many ways did the dance emphasize circles? Can you show some of the ways? • How did the costumes and props affect the dance? Did they inhibit or contribute to the motion? How? • What images came into your mind when you watched The Flying Goddess dance? What feelings did you have? • After seeing the two contrasting dances, how would you describe the attitudes, feelings and values of the dynasty that each one represented?

Audio-Visual Materials: • Artsource® Video excerpt: The Flying Goddess and The Fan Dance, courtesy of Lily Cai. • Photos: Lee Hanson.

Additional References: • Flying Dragon and Dancing Phoenix, edited by Chen Weiye, Ji Lanwei and Ma Wei. New World Press, Beijing, China: 1987. Distributed by China International Book Trading Corporation. P.O. Box 399, Beijing, China. ISBN 7-80005-007-6. • Lewis, John. The Chinese Word for Horse. Bergström and Boyle Books Limited, 22 Maddox St., London WIR 9PG: 1976. ISBN 0 903767 08 2.

Multidisciplinary Options: In China there are 55 minorities, each of which has its own unique culture. Dances have been passed from one generation to the next for thousands of years. Sometimes researchers study ancient rock paintings to help in reconstructing dances which have become extinct. More than 1000 years ago the Naxis (a Chinese ethnic minority) created pictographic characters to record their dances, fairy tales, poems and natural discoveries. Imagine that you are an artist in ancient times. Make your own pictograph, creating a series of pictures depicting different movements that you would paint on the walls of a cave. See example on page 11.

Sample Experiences: LEVEL I • Classical Chinese dance uses the concept of circles. Create five different circular positions (shapes) with your body. Have the class try several of the different ideas. * • Discover motion possibilities by using different body parts to ‘draw’ circular movements in the space above, below, beside and in front of the body, i.e. use your head to draw circles of different sizes on the ceiling, your shoulder to draw circles on the side wall or walk a circle on the floor. Teach one of your ideas to a partner. LEVEL II • The written language of China is primarily composed of pictures. Originally these were called “pictograms,” which symbolized concrete ideas such as the sun, moon, animals and plants. These evolved into Chinese written characters (calligraphy) and could express emotions and intellectual concepts too. Select a few and explore the gestures required to create them in movement, as well as the concepts. Resource: Aria, Barbara. The Spirit of the Chinese Character. Chronicle Books, S. F., CA. 1992. • Many Mongolian dances represent their sports, such as horse racing, archery and wrestling. In small groups, select a sport from your culture and develop several of the movements into a dance about that sport. * • Learn the Chinese Ribbon Dance. LEVEL III • There is a Chopstick Dance which is popular with certain groups of Mongolians. It is danced on happy occasions. The dancer holds a bunch of chopsticks in one or both hands and lightly taps his hands, shoulders, lower back and legs while bending and stretching his legs, swaying from side to side and shaking his shoulders energetically, moving in circles or in a straight line. The movements are free, easy and agile and the chopsticks are used to tap in a variety of ways. Using some of these ideas, create a dance with chopsticks. This can be done with or without music. * • Animal-mime dances are popular in parts of China. At Spring Festivals large props made to look like animals are held or worn by the performers who dance to the accompaniment of gongs, cymbals and drums. Have small groups create dances based on the Playing Dragon Dance (Long Cuo), Lion Dance (Shi Cuo), Unicorn Dance (Oilin Cuo) and Monkey Drum Dance. * Indicates sample lessons




LEVEL I Sample Lesson INTRODUCTION: Classical Chinese Dance bases the movements, gestures and floor patterns on the concept of the circle. This lesson involves students in an exploration of the many movement possibilities of the circle and how these movements can be varied and changed by using the elements of dance (time, space and energy). OBJECTIVES: (Student Outcomes) Students will be able to: • Create a variety of ideas using circular movement. (Creating) • Describe, discuss, analyze and connect information and experiences based on this lesson. Refer to Assessment at the end of this lesson. (Responding & Connecting) MATERIALS: • None required; however, drawings and photographs of circles could stimulate ideas for movement. • Artsource® video excerpts of The Flying Goddess and The Fan Dance. • Music which feels circular or which is in 3/4 or 6/8 meter is helpful.

Vase from the Yong Zheng period of the Qing dynasty

PROGRESSION: • Give the students a little background on Classical Chinese Dance and show the video of Lily Cai. • Explain that the ancient Classical Chinese dance movements were based on the concept of circles. • Warm up each part of the body using circles. Begin with the head and work down the body parts moving shoulders, elbows, wrists, arms, upper torso, lower torso, legs, ankles. Finally, find ways to move the body as a whole using circular movements. • After the warm up, ask different children to show how to move a specific body part in a circle. Ask the class to copy each movement idea, repeating it a few times. • Give some of the following commands to encourage the children to explore their own circular ideas: • Using your head, find a way to draw circles on the ceiling. Exaggerate the movement to include the entire body. 3

• Using either shoulder, find ways to draw circles on one of the side walls. Reverse the direction. Switch to the other shoulder. • Using your nose, draw circles of different sizes (bigger and smaller) on the front wall. • Using both arms, explore ways to create circles with both arms moving together in the same direction and then in opposing directions. Change from very slow to fast time. • Walk a circle on the ground. Find ways to walk five different circles. Walk a figure 8. Add your torso and arms to the action. Repeat the idea running. Reverse and travel backwards. • Create circular movements using your hips. Use an ear to initiate circular movement. • Make up a sequence of movement ideas using circles in five to ten different ways. • In small groups or partners, share your ways of moving with others. Share some of these with the class. Task: Create a dance of circles using five to ten different ideas Suggestion Criteria for Dance: • Clear performance focus • Selection of five or more ideas which are repeated • Smooth transitions between ideas • Some ideas done in place and some that travel • Change of levels and directions • Clear beginning, middle and end EXTENSION: • Draw a picture using circles of different sizes, thicknesses and colors. Interpret your picture in movement. VOCABULARY: circle, classical ASSESSMENT: (Responding & Connecting) DESCRIBE: Give your impressions of the dances you observed in the video. DISCUSS: Discuss what the class learned about making circles in motion. How does it feel to make circular movements? What happens if you change the size, direction, body part, slow/fast tempo, or soft/strong energy? ANALYZE: Discuss the differences you observed between the two dances. CONNECT: What other things can you think of that move in circular paths? Emphasis on: Common Core - CA State Standards for Language - Reading; Writing; Listening; Speaking

Lily Cai in The Fan Dance Photo: Lee Hanson




LEVEL II Sample Lesson INTRODUCTION: Lily Cai does a Chinese ribbon dance called The Flying Goddess. The flying and floating of the ribbon represents a goddess. OBJECTIVES: (Student Outcomes) Students will be able to: • Create and perform a Chinese Ribbon Dance. (Creating & Performing) • Describe, discuss, analyze and connect information and experiences based on this lesson. Refer to Assessment at the end of this lesson. (Responding & Connecting) MATERIALS:

Lily Cai in The Flying Goddess Photo: Lee Hanson

• Dowels with long strips of ribbon or crepe paper attached at one end. Experiment to find the length which is appropriate for the size of the students and works best for the weight of the material used. Make enough for either one half or the entire class. Students can have either one or two ribbon dowels to work with. • Audio recording of music for the Chinese Ribbon Dance or wooden dowels, chopsticks and small percussion instruments to beat a rhythm pattern to accompany the dance. • Artsource® video excerpt of The Flying Goddess. PROGRESSION: • Give some background on Classical Chinese Dance. Show the video of Lily Cai doing the Flying Goddess Dance. Ask the students what words they can think of to describe these images. Ask why they think the Chinese used ribbons to represent a goddess. Discuss the different spatial patterns in which a dancer could move the ribbons. What kind of energy would a dancer use? Why? • Let half the class, or fewer if there is little space, use the ribbon dowels. Using the following ideas, have them try different suggested patterns. Perform each pattern for the 20 count musical phrase. • Make large circle patterns to the side of the body in which the ribbon dowel is held. Switch sides. • Make large circle patterns in front of the body. Try moving first in one direction, then the other. • Make large circle patterns above the head, moving the dowel horizontally to the ceiling. • Make large figure eight patterns in front of the body. 5

• Make large figure 8 movements, making one loop in front of the body and the second loop out to the side of the body. • Using any of these ideas, combine them in different ways to make up your own patterns. • Explore ways to travel and create patterns with the ribbon dowels. • Try these ideas again, but this time ask the students to experiment with dance elements such as changing levels, facing in different directions, altering their energy from soft to strong, adding turns, taking some movements off the ground, etc. • Use the music if you wish, or use chopsticks, wooden dowels or woodblocks to beat out the following rhythmic pattern to accompany the dancers. // // // /

// // // /

// // // /

// // // /

1& 2& 3& 4

1& 2& 3& 4 1& 2& 3& 4 1& 2& 3& 4

/ / / / 1 2 3 4

Instruct half the class to observe or play music and the other half to perform the movement. Other percussion instruments such as gongs, bells and shakers can also be added for texture and additional sound quality to the music. Discuss the dance and see what other movement possibilities the students can suggest. EXTENSION: • Divide into small groups and ask the students to choreograph their own Chinese Ribbon Dance. Ask them to design six movement patterns with at least one that travels and changes levels. Encourage the students to fulfill the movements and to use energy variations, direction changes and specific paths for their traveling movements and different spatial positions and group relationships. Use the music provided or compose original music in the Chinese style. VOCABULARY: goddess, pattern, level, direction, percussion ASSESSMENT: (Responding & Connecting) DESCRIBE: Describe The Flying Goddess dance from your point of view. DISCUSS: Discuss what you learned about working with circles in dance. ANALYZE: Discuss the differences between using props in dance and moving without props. CONNECT: Describe the similarities and differences between The Flying Goddess dance and the U.S. Olympic Ribbon Dances done in competitive gymnastics. Lily Cai in The Flying Goddess Photo: Lee Hanson


Emphasis on: Common Core - CA State Standards for Language - Reading; Writing; Listening; Speaking



LEVEL III Sample Lesson INTRODUCTION: “Dances in which the performers dress in bird and animal costumes and mime their movements are popular in many areas of China. The greatest variety of these types of dances, however, is found in Guangxi.” This area is composed mainly of high plateaux with magnificent mountains and rivers. The dances in this area originated in very ancient times. Archeologists have unearthed ancient bronze drums with engraved patterns of dragons, snakes, birds and animals, showing the significance of animals in their lives. Historians have found more than twenty kinds of dances, many of them still performed at spring festivals. They include dances about the following animals: lion, dragon, unicorn, lion and horse, dragon and horse, paper-horse, turtle-dove, fighting cocks, white-crane, butterfly, gange-bird, horse and colorful Phoenix and unicorn and Phoenix. OBJECTIVES: (Student Outcomes) Students will be able to: • Explore the actions, rhythms and qualities of specific animals. (Responding & Creating) • Create an original animal mime dance. (Creating & Performing) • Describe, discuss, analyze and connect information and experiences based on this lesson. Refer to Assessment at the end of this lesson. (Responding & Connecting)

Hemp-Rope Dragon Dance of the Qiangs

MATERIALS: • Pictures, photos, film and videos of animals. • A variety of props and accessories which could be used as costumes for the animal dances (optional). PROGRESSION: • The following are some descriptions of authentic Chinese ethnic dances based on the movements of animals which are found in the different regions. Select some of these descriptions to share with the class. MONKEY DRUM DANCE: “The dance depicts the panic of a monkey and its comic gestures after accidentally hitting a night-watch drum when it was making its way into a temple to steal food offerings. The dancer's humorous and vivid movements include: climbing a tree backwards, stealing peaches, scratching, rolling a ball and playing a drum.” 7

• Show pictures of monkeys and find movement words which describe the ways in which monkeys move. Have the class explore loose movement qualities, swinging and dangling actions, scratching and different poses in which monkeys might be found. Try interpreting the above story in mime or depict the events of an original story created by the class or individuals. TURTLE-DOVE DANCE: “The steps are slow, with the feet pointing occasionally, then the dancers stretch their arms to imitate flying. The dancers turn with quick steps and jump hand in hand or nod their heads to express their close friendship and joyful mood.” • Select a specific bird and observe its movements. Notice the rhythm of the movements and how the rhythm of the head might be different from the rhythm of the feet or wings. Explore these rhythms and actions in your body, trying to duplicate and exaggerate the movement ideas. Repetition is a good tool to use.

HORSE DANCE: “This dance is performed with a horse prop fastened to the dancer's waist. The movements show the horse’s ability to traverse mountain paths and the nimble and vigorous movements it uses in resisting enemies. The movements imitate the horse jumping, dodging and turning. The horse is an important means of transportation on the high plateau, and horses in the Tajik area are famous for their skill on mountain paths.” • Discuss the actions that horses perform. Explore each of these ideas, finding many ways to express each one. Select two or three ideas and give each a rhythm and a specific floor path to travel upon. Combine several movements and develop them into a short dance study about horses. This can be done solo or in small groups with a leader.

Horse dance of the Bai people

(pictured right)

CAT DANCE: This dance is performed during farming seasons by the Qiangs. “The Qiangs worship the cat as an animal that can wipe out calamities in farm production. The dancer imitates the postures of a cat, such as leaping from a squatting position, rolling and jumping, pulling back his arms and stretching out his fingers in exaggerated resemblance to a cat.”


• Look at photos of cats or observe a cat in several situations. Write down the actions you observe and sketch some of the positions it takes. Think of the quality of movement, as well as the rhythm. Create a mime dance which captures several of the movement ideas you selected for the cat. Do as a solo or small group study. DANCE OF FIVE GIANT ANIMALS: “A dance for celebrations, this dance is performed by five people wearing tiger, leopard, bear, ‘deer’ and ‘roe’ deer masks. It is cheerful and humorous, mostly performed after a bumper harvest or hunt. The dance celebrates the Manchu’s skills in hunting.” • Working in groups of five, select five different animals and have each student to select one to portray in movement. Make sure that each person has specific information about the animal they will mime. They should know if it is light or heavy, performs small or large movements, is fast or slow, moves up and down, forward and back or side to side. It is the imitation and extension of these specific ideas which will help the dancer communicate the essence of the animal.

LEAPING TIGER DANCE: “This dance, imitating the movements of the tiger, is performed in the area of Huihe Township. It is usually performed by five persons, four of whom act as tigers. Looking fierce, they half squat, facing each other on four sides. The fifth dancer, representing the prey, stands in the middle. The tigers keep their feet parallel and both hands on their thighs. They jump feet together and half squatting.” • Using the description of this dance, in groups of three or five, create a tiger or other predator dance, making sure that the movements stay in an abstract rather than realistic form; it is best to give a limitation of “no touching.” Infuse the movements with a specific rhythm and use a drum or chant to accompany the movements. Think of the beginning composition of dancers, followed by the middle section and finally the ending pose. EXTENSION: • Take a class trip to the zoo, aviary or other place where animals are found. Before you go, make a check list for observing specific animals and jotting down ideas for miming and dancing them. The checklist should include such things as: • actions performed (list words, using the ‘ing’ ending) • sounds made (a tape recorder is good to collect them) • rhythm and timing of the actions (quick/slow, even/uneven, short/long) • qualities of the movements • use of space: levels, directions,

Monkey Drum Dance of the Miao people (pictured right)


large or small amounts. *(strong, weak, soft, float, punch, slash, flick, press, wring, glide, dab). See ‘Tools to Use When Viewing Dance,’ in the Dance Addendum. It is also very helpful to sketch the animals. Show two or three different positions in which that animal rests or pauses. You can use the method of using body parts described in the Remy Charlip Unit under “Multidisciplinary Options” to make the sketching quick and easy. VOCABULARY: qualities, rhythm, Eight Effort Actions, levels, directions, mime ASSESSMENT: (Responding & Connecting) DESCRIBE: Describe the story behind the animal and dance you created. DISCUSS: Discuss the things you most enjoyed about moving like different animal characters. Give reasons why. ANALYZE: Discuss the difference between miming the movements of an animal and abstracting the animal characteristics into a creative dance. CONNECT: Think about other cultures you know about that create dances featuring different animals (Yaqui Indians - deer dance, Iroquois - eagle dance, ballet - Swan Lake, etc.). Emphasis on: Common Core - CA State Standards for Language - Reading; Writing; Listening; Speaking



These are written records of dance movements in Dongba scriptures of The Sun Rises. The dance is read left to right and depicts the following dance steps: three steps left, three steps right. Raise a hand and stamp once. Travel forward while dancing. Return to the original position and repeat the dance steps in four different directions, turning 1/4 turn to the left and then repeating the directions to the right. More than a thousand years ago the Naxi group of Chinese created pictographic characters to record a large amount of production knowledge, folk and fairy tales, long lyric poems and dances.


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