China is the most populous country in the world.
Wherever there are Chinese people, there are "dragons" regarded as mascots. For
over 2,000 years, the dragon has turned from a symbol of deity, emperor and
imperial power into a symbol of the rising Chinese nation. The Dragon Dance,
accordingly, has been elevated from asking for God and rain to expressing
people's courage, pride and wisdom.
The Dragon Dance has diversified models and forms. The dragon is a totem of
the Chinese nation. The farming tribes worship it very much. People think
dragons can make clouds and bring them rain. Playing dragon dances in the spring
will hopefully bring people favorable weather; playing in dry seasons will bring
them rain; playing to different families will drive ghosts out. Therefore, the
custom goes on.
The dragons are made into different forms, such as the cloth dragon, the
grass dragon, the fire dragon and the segment dragon. The play is accordingly
different. The cloth dragon has a separate dragon head and body, which is
connected with cloth. The longer the dragon is, the more performers there are.
One person uses a pearl-like thing to lead the dragon. The dragon will rise or
fall, slowly or rapidly. Sometimes, it flies up to the sky, and sometimes it is
like hiding under the ocean and breaking waves. The fire dragon is made with
candles put into each section of the dragon body. When performed at night,
firecrackers are set off. We see an extremely excellent scene of the fire dragon
shuttling back and forth among fireworks. The grass dragon, also called "burning
incense dragon", is made from rice straw and green vines, with burning incenses
inserted into it. Played during summer nights, the dragon is like a meteor
attracting a lot of insects. When the play is over, the dragon is put into a
pool to drown the insects. Therefore, playing with the grass dragon helps get
rid of insects.
Usually, the Dragon Dance is performed by many people with specially made
stage props in their hands. At first, they sing and dance, like butterflies
among flowers. Then, they turn the stage props to form the head and tail of a
dragon with some pieces of the lotus-like tools entering the dragon's body. When
the dragon shoots into the sky, the audience feels the elegance and uniqueness
of the dance.