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Dance in Feathery Clothing


The Singing and DancingDaquwas a big-scale performance formed in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and it combines instrumental music, dance and singing. Among the shows, traditional instruments from the central China were used to playFaqu, or pieces with a more gentle and elegant style. The number of Tang DynastyDaquwas big and over 60 of them have been passed down.

The representative works wasNishangyuyi(The Dance in Feathery Clothing), which belonged to theFaqucategory. There were many beautiful stories about its origin. One of them says the work was secretly learned by Tang Emperor Minghuang from the Palace in the Moon. This manifested the love and praise of the people who had seen it.

The great Tang poet Bai Juyi gave it a more detailed description in his famous articleSong to the Dance in Feathery Clothing, which read:

The light rotation resembles the flying snowflakes, and rapid advance is like a startled dragon. The drooping hands are frail and subtle like budding poplar twigs, and the tilting dancing dresses rise up like white clouds. Beneath misty eyebrows the wandering eyes carry forth enchanting charms, and the long sleeves dancing up and down in the wind are full of feelings. It must be Madame Shangyuan (a Taoist goddess) who calls over the fairy E Luhua, and the Queen Mother of the West who bids farewell to the fairy Xu Feiqiong. The rapid music of the twelfth chapter is varied and splendid, and like jumping pearls and striking jade pieces it is most pleasant to the ear. The end of the dance is like a flying phoenix gathering her wings, and the last note of the music sounds like a moving song of the crane.

Through such vivid description, we can well imagine the elegant spirits of theDance in Feathery Clothingand the superb skills of the performers.

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