Inner Mongolia, Sea of Songs and Dances  

The horse is essential to nomadic tribes in Inner Mongolia. Since horses are intuitive of human feeling and can know the way through boundless prairies and help their owners out of trouble during war, they are loyal friends to nomadic tribes. Consequently, horse images are frequently found in folk dances on the pasture lands. Herdsmen do not simply imitate the appearance of a horse. They put deep feeling into portraying horse characteristics. By arm, shoulder and body movements, they reveal the valiant and heroic bearing of horse riders and various horse images.

There are also female dances in Inner Mongolia. The most famous are the Jinai dance (milking dance), the Caihong dance (rainbow dance), the Zhongwan dance (bowl dance), the Kuaizi dance (chopsticks dance), and the Andai dance. There are also many stories about these folk dances for women.

The Andai dance, for example, has many beautiful stories. One of them is: Andai actually is the name of an ordinary girl. Once she caught a serious disease and was dying. Her father drove the carriage to send Andai to see the doctors. And no doctor could cure her. Her father never gave up and drove the carriage from one doctor to another. Unfortunately, the carriage broke after a really long journey. Her father was broken-hearted and crying. Herdsmen from all directions who heard the sad crying went there and calmed the old man. At last, they encircled the father and daughter, and sang and danced to encourage them. When Andai heard the courageous singing and vigorous dancing, her depressed heart was encouraged and her disease was miraculously cured.

So the Andai dance in Inner Mongolia nowadays is not simply a dance. It has religious and mystical color. When women get depressed because of the restraints of love and marriage, their families invite a Shaman to dance "Andai". Singers and masses are also invited. Together with them come young men and women from nearby. No musical instruments are used, but fixed with rhythm and libretto. Some dance movements are composed impromptu, some simple and ordinary. Led by the Shaman, the audience encircle the singer and dance around her. In this way, they try to console the patient. They sing: "Spread out your black hair, Ah, Andai!" "Your friends are all here, Ah, Andai!" or "Who are you missing? Speak out and you will be fine!" With speeding rhythm, people begin dancing wildly. The patient is therefore stimulated to feel better.

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