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Chinese dancers mimic willow in the wind in sweltering heat

Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker Leaning back: Alison He performing in Mary Street, Surry Hills. Photo: Nic Walker
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Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker

Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker

Beauty and bliss: Dancer Alison He says being part of a dancing group feels like family. Photo: Nic Walker

It’s the dance that opens doors and fans, especially on a sweltering Friday in Surry Hills.

In a small rehearsal room every week, a group of 15 women practise traditional Chinese dances such as the Dance of the Willow. It’s a coquettish performance. Fans with long red tassels are flayed and closed to mimic the swing of the willow in the wind. Fans are often positioned in a girlish way across the five dancers’ faces.

Fuelled by traditional custard tarts and boiled eggs, around 15 svelte women aged 24 to 60 practise for a growing number of performances around Sydney.The group performed at 70 events this year, said Maggie Wu, the vice-president of the Australian Chinese Community Association of NSW and the dance group’s manager.

“Now we’re becoming popular,” she said, noting that the women’s performance often provided a calm change after the explosions of traditional dragon dances.

Unlike Chinese audiences, who often chatted through performances, Westerners were quiet, she said. “They are very respectful, they don’t talk, they don’t eat and they want to know later where they can get our costumes,” Ms Wu said.

Jackie Seow, of Strathfield, said the dancing made her “very happy”,  a word repeated by different dancers.  “It’s very happy, very flowing movement,” she said of the willow dance. It shows the elegance of the ladies,” Ms Seow said.  “The swaying of the body represents the romantic, it represents the unlimited love of the lady.”

Alison He, at 24 the youngest of the group by 20 years, did belly dancing when she lived in China. Now finishing a masters of finance at the University of Western Sydney, she started Chinese dancing in Sydney. “I love dancing very much … it is like a big family, I feel very warm here. We are very happy. Happiness is very important when we dance, ” she said. 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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