Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Library>Culture ABC>Dance>People
Famous Dancer: Madame Gongsun


TheJiyueof the Tang Dynasty (618-907) had a profound influence on the social life with its amazing creativity and left vivid images in various literary and art works -- poem, tales of marvels, painting, sculpture, etc. These images still draw the appreciation and imagination of today's people.

Among the numerous poems on dances written in the Tang Dynasty, the best known is the great poet Du Fu's work,Beholding the Jianqi (Sword) Dance by Madame Gongsun, in which he gave the dance a fine description:

There used to be a beautiful woman named Madame Gongsun whose swordJianqiwould always make a stir. The audience gathered in a vast group and each of them was shocked by her dance. Both the heaven and the earth changed colors while she was dancing. The dazzling flash of the sword was like the nine suns shot down from heaven by the ancient hero Hou Yi. Her vigorous and brisk steps were those of the gods riding across the sky on dragons. She began like the thunders controlling their rage; she ended like the peaceful oceans gathering their waves.

The poet used wild imaginations through a series of moving comparisons to catch the dazzling spirit of Madame Gongsun's sword dance. Vigorous as flying dragons, shining like nine suns, the dance forced the mountains to bow, the wind and clouds to turn color. This poem and the above-quoted Song to theDance in Feathery Clothingby Bai Juyi were the two priceless jade pieces in the dance poems of the Tang Dynasty.

At the end of the Tang Dynasty, the blossom of theJiyuedance also came to an end. Although it had some development in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), such as the dances of Women Dance Team and Children Dance Team in the imperial court, its scale was never the same as in the Tang Dynasty. There were still official, camp and familyJiyueperformers, but their influence and scale were far from those in the Tang Dynasty.

Email to Friends