The Great Qing Dynasty
The Qing (pronounced "ching") was China’s last dynasty, claiming its patch of history from 1644 to 1911. The reigns of the Manchurian emperors Kangxi and Qianlong brought the Qing Dynasty to its peak, as economic, military, and cultural achievements brought long-term stability and wealth for the Middle Kingdom.
It is one of my favorite dynasties.
I used to love watching historical TV dramas set during the Qing Dynasty. I adored the elegant attire and elaborate headdresses worn by the graceful imperial princesses. I really wanted to wear “flower pot shoes,” with their four-inch-high raised soles and beautiful satin cloth. Little did I know that when I joined Shen Yun, I would get to.
Over six seasons with Shen Yun, we’ve had several Qing Dynasty dances, including The Ladies of the Manchurian Court and Manchurian Elegance. I was ecstatic when I saw the shoes—my dream came true!
But as I discovered, it’s not easy to walk in them, let alone dance! It was like struggling to keep balance on a narrow gymnasium beam, and after rehearsal it felt like I had finally returned to flat ground. But practice makes perfect. Soon enough, everyone danced gracefully in those ancient four-inch heels.
This season, one of my ultimate favorite dances is The Qing Imperial Guards. The first time I saw it, there were no costumes and no Forbidden City backdrop, but I was immediately enthralled. The crisp opening sound of the fan and the distinct percussion that accompanies it instantly mesmerized me. The dance reflects the gallant spirit of the imperial guards. I knew it would be an audience favorite.
Shen Yun has yet to tour Australia this year, but my parents have already learned the names of several dances from reading audience reviews. I spoke to my mum recently; she recited the dance names she remembered, and when she got to the Qing Imperial Guards I interrupted:
“That’s my favorite!”
“Mine too!” she said.
This confused me. “But you haven’t seen the dance yet!”
“I know, but the name of the dance sounds good, so I like it already.”
I’m sure when they actually see it, they won’t be disappointed. But you don’t have to be a Qing Dynasty fanatic to appreciate this dance or any other Shen Yun piece. Just like Chinese food, Chinese culture and dance can be enjoyed by everyone!
February 29, 2012