Square dancing or Guang Chang Wu is a popular dance in China that is done in parks, squares, and plazas and the main participants are middle-aged and retired people. Dance is a form of entertainment and a sports activity.
Square dancing is usually done early in the morning or in the evening.
Chinese Square Dance History
The origin of Chinese square dancing is traced back to the 1990s. During that time most Chinese people lost their jobs as capitalism was being adopted in most parts. The people had more free time and desired to stay fit. Square dancing was then created from the desire to stay entertained with little or no money and a lack of public facilities. The dance had so much impact on the health and it didn’t require any expertise in dancing.
Most participants were women; this is because of the pension system in China which requires women to retire at the age of 55 and men at the age of 60. Therefore elderly women have more time than men.
Many seniors gathered to dance due to its social function and with time it was discovered that dancing helped relieve a number of chronic diseases. The government of China saw the importance of encouraging a healthy society due to the increase of aged people. So they took the initiative of constructing outdoor sports venues and in 2018 the number of parks went up to 16,038.
With time young people have also been involved in the dance bringing more energy and taking the dance to new levels. The older people not only dance together but also go shopping, party together, travel, and play Mahjong.
According to the healthy china blueprint, the aim is to boost the percentage of people involved in physical exercise from 33.9 to beyond 49% in 2030.
Chinese Square Dance where are they from
The square dance originated in the 17th century in England and was practiced in France, Spain, Germany, and Italy before coming to China during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Chinese Square dancers come from all walks of life and others are professional groups of dancers who are paid to teach and perform at the parks and squares. Most dancers are old Chinese women between the ages of 50 and 60.
Chinese Square Dance Songs
The Chinese square dance songs include anything from traditional to modern music. However, it is safe to say that traditional square dancing has not changed much from the 19th century. Traditional songs were played with instruments such as guitars and banjos and guitars. Modern square dance music includes pop, techno, and country.
The top Chinese square dance song since 2009 is the most dazzle-folk style by Phoenix Legend. Other popular songs are Little Apple and The Coolest Ethnic Trend.
Chinese Square Dance Style
There are different dance styles to enjoy the rhythm of the songs.
Singing squares– this is a modern dancing style that is a combination of the quadrille, Appalachian, and traditional square dancing. It involves four couple square groups who are directed to dance through singing and the dance style is sync to the musical phrase whether modern or traditional.
Quadrille- this is the typical style of square dancing which involves well-choreographed movements led by a caller. The movements vary from bows to honors and lefts and rights.
Traditional Squares- the movements in this style were borrowed from the 18th century. The caller calls out the couple who are supposed to follow his or her movements. The dance starts by walking and then performing the movements. The movements advance from the first couple to the third and fourth couple, giving each couple the chance to perform.
Western Squares- Western squares dance style is randomized by the caller. The caller has to be very creative to create a full dance for the couples. Western square involves two dance levels; mainstream and plus. Mainstream is basic and some of the movements involved are Spin the Top, Ferris Wheel, and Swing Thru.
What is the Purpose of Square Dancing?
Traditionally, the purpose of square dancing was to bring people together, create entertainment, stay healthy and maintain community relations. Square dancing is encouraged as it unites old people together, relieves loneliness, helps them communicate better, and reduces chronic diseases.
Square dancing has become very popular in China and to some, it’s a source of entertainment while the residents who live near the parks complain about the noise it causes. The dancing ‘grannies’ however argue that square dancing is a way of making them feel connected, make friends, travel together, stay fit and even invest together.