By Janhavi Hunnur, Staff Writer
With Eastern Regional Night having already passed by, the images and sounds of Bollywood-style dance are still playing in our minds. Dance has been evolving along with the human race throughout history and is comprised of interesting events that have shaped its evolution all across the world. Asia’s cultural and religious traditions can be experienced through its multiple dance styles. Each Asian country has numerous ethnic tribes that have created their own dance performances and have unique relationships with their dances, ultimately contributing to a vast diversity that can rarely be experienced elsewhere. Dance has come to represent many different things for different peoples. Some see it as a source of entertainment. Others view it in a religious or mythological context.
In recent years, some dance forms are losing their respective audiences and are in danger of becoming extinct. This has been a result of a few different things, namely the homogenization of language and the waning interest among younger generations. Here are a few Asian dances that are currently facing this struggle:
- Cantonese Opera – Emerging in Southern China’s Guangdong province, this is a traditional dance form comprised of folk music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting. Before formal education became widespread, Cantonese opera was one of the strong mediums for spreading moral and civic lessons. The government kept a keen eye on the nature of the types of theater being performed, and it focused on spreading messages of governmental loyalty. For posterity to witness the beauty of this dance, it needs the attention and interest of both the youth and the government of Hong Kong.
- Butoh – This dance type can be characterized as an ever-evolving conundrum. In this particular form, the artist puts his body in a state of shock in order to control many types of movement. The artists are trained to manage their sweat and can go without blinking for more than hour. It is an intense combination of theatre and dance. Butoh artists are born and raised in this environment. Women are not allowed to participate and the artists have to be Japanese. It is one of the greatest forms of Japanese art, but to ensure its continued survival, it might have to opened up to people of other origins.
- Khmer Dance – This original Cambodian dance can be categorized as a classical dance of the royal court. It is a fold dance known for its cultural and religious traditions, and its performance is designed for social gatherings. The dance movements renowned for their flexibility artistic poise. A lack of interest among the youth to perform in public ceremonies is probably the greatest reason this dance form is disappearing.
- Sundee Dance – Sundee dance is the dance of the natives who resided in the foothills of the mountainous region of Taiwan. Mainly performed in villages, it and can be witnessed mostly during the time of the new year. It is passed down throughout the generations by ancestors and senior family members. One of its most beautiful aspects is that its interpretation is flexibly adapted by each family member. Because the dance is confined to only sparsely populated areas, it might not be around within a hundred years from now.
This could be a call to arms for dance club at school, with the support of current students and alumni, to work towards keeping international art forms afloat.