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Andai, Handleless Cup and Chopsticks Dances

The Mongol dances have long enjoyed a great reputation. The famous traditional dances include Andai Dance, Handleless Cup Dance, Chopsticks Dance and so on. The contemporarily produced dances include Eagle,Yataghan Dance, Saddle Horse Dance, Gallop, Milking men's Dance, Ordos Wedding, The Herdsman's Happiness and so on. The main characteristics of the Mongol dances are the distinct tempo and the overflowing emotion. In most of the feminine dances, the tempos are lively and the dancing steps are graceful. The swing of the shoulder and the turn of the wrist are all among the well-known gestures, which expresses the Mongol girls' passionate and cheerful character. While in the masculine dances, the shapes are tall, straight and heroic and the steps are free, vigorous and gentle. A wave of the hand, a raise of the whip and even a jump all exhibit the beauty of masculine, which are agile, brave, robust and martial.

Bowls-on-head DanceAndai Dance originated from a collective dance of the Kulun Qi in the south of the Horqin Grassland. "Andai" means "to raise oneself slightly", "to lift one's head". At first, it was a religious dance used in praying to god and curing the sickness and its meaning is to impetrate the blessing of the god, to prevent diseases and to forestall misfortunes. Later, the dance gradually became an entertaining activity. As to its origin, there are many legends spreading far and wide in the people. This is one of them: Long ago, there lived a father and his daughter on the Horqin Grassland. Suddenly, the daughter began to suffer from an odd disease. She did not take meals on time, and became moody. She had been ill for a long time without any sign of recovery. The father was burning with anxiety and carried his daughter on the herdsman's light wooden cart to another place (named Fuxin) of the country to see doctors. However, natural and man-made disasters could not be foretold, the axle of the cart broke on the way. Just at that time, the girl's disease aggravated and her life was in danger. Her father was worried out of his wits, and simply run around the cart, crying and singing. His voice attracted many people in the nearby villages, and they all followed him in his crying and singing. No one knew, whether it was because she was moved by this spectacular scene and forgot her pain, or because the evil spirit of illness was really scared away, the daughter rose quietly, got off the cart, and followed the people, swinging her arms and stamping with them. When the people saw her, she was sweating all over, and her disease had totally gone. This story spread very fast, and soon all the people on the Horqin Grassland got to know it. Afterwards, whenever a young woman suffered from such or similar diseases, they would follow this way, and they called it "Andai". In the early days, its emphasis was on singing, and was also called "Sing Andai". Then, people began to dance to the singing, which added to its entertaining function and later, it began to play a main role in celebrating the festivals. The usual form is like this: led by the singer (or music accompaniment), all the participants---man, woman, the aged, and the young---stand in a circle, hold the silk in hand or lift the lap of the garment, echo the song while dance counter-clockwise.Chopsticks Dance The main actions include to mark time waving the silk, to move and kick reeling the silk, to circle and jump wigwagging the silk and to leap and fall throwing the silk. The manner of the dance is unrestrained, bright and vivacious. After 1949, the dance was sorted out and processed by the professional art and literature workers, and was presented on the stage.

Handleless Cup Dance and Chopsticks Dance stem from Etuoke Qi and Wushen Qi on the Ordos Plateau. "Handleless Cup Dance" is also called "Bowls-on-head Dance", and it is often an ad-lib performed by women on festivals. Usually, The dancer carries a bowl or a plate on her head, and a pair of wine cup in each hand. Accompanied by the songs of the people sitting around, she knocks at the wine cups gently, and dances gracefully. Most of the actions in such dances are the movements of the upper part of the body, and the head and the neck swayed lightly and smoothly. The movements of the arms are rich and varied, among which wave, raise, press and pick are more often used. The movements not only include waist-centered lifting, bending and swaying while she sits, kneel, or stands, but also include gentle and elegant dance steps while she darts in a circle or swirls. The carriage is unfolded and the shape is dainty. "Chopsticks Dance" is famous for its accompaniment of the chopsticks and it is often performed by a single man on festivals. Usually, the dancer holds a bunch of chopsticks in each of his hand, making some movements with other people's singing and knocking. While he kneels, sits or stands, he hits his hands, arms, shoulders, back, waist and feet with chopsticks along with the stretching of the legs, the swaying of the body. Sometimes, he also hits the ground with his chopsticks while dancing. The movements are agile and dexterous, and the tempos are strong. After 1949, this kind of dance was adapted into a group dance of both men and women, which made the atmosphere more enthusiastic, and also highlighted the kneading of the shoulders and the twisting of the waist.

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