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Awards show nothing square about this dance

China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-23 10:05
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Members of a troupe at a cultural center in Beijing's Xicheng district practice square dance in a park on Sept 8. TAI SICONG/XINHUA

Decked out in fancy attire, Li Fengwei and her teammates have been busy lately, rehearsing for an upcoming square dance competition.

The 60-year-old is a member of a dance troupe at a cultural center in Beijing's Xicheng district. Established in 2003, the team is currently comprised of 40 enthusiastic square dancers with an average age of 62.

"We started from zero," said Li, who joined the team after retiring. "Everyone was in different physical condition and at a different level, but we persevered with our love and passion for dance."

In addition to dancing, 59-year-old Zhao Huijie, who is also a member of the troupe, has taught herself basic editing skills so that she can arrange better music for the dances. Her teammate Kong Hangyu, has regained her healthy physique since she began dancing.

As the troupe's instructor, Yue Xiaodong is delighted to see the positive impact square dancing has had on the lives of senior dancers.

"Square dancing is of great value to them and has helped them receive recognition," he said.

Square dancing has received widespread public attention in China for its strong sense of empathy and engagement.

Yuan Liang, an official with the Beijing Cultural Center, said that there are currently more than 4,000 square dance groups in Beijing, and the choreography and costumes showcase local characteristics.

Chinese square dancers have performed in France, New Zealand and the United States in recent years.

"Square dance differs from other professional genres as it can incorporate moves from any other dance style. It is not only a grassroots cultural activity that has grown out of people's daily lives, it is also closely linked to traditional culture," Yue said.

For the first time, square dancing was included as a separate category in the recently announced Qun Xing National Award for Culture and Arts in China. Li's team was one of the winners.

"The award is motivation for all the ordinary people who join square dance activities," said Yuan, expressing hopes that it will help promote Chinese culture around the world.


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