This is an ethnographic short film that illustrates how groups of people come together regularly to dance in public squares throughout China. Moon Square in Xichang, Sichuan Province is one such place for the Liangshan Dance Group, directed by Peng Rong. The group is not professional, rather they are everyday people. For the Liangshan Dance Group, they are also intergenerational, meaning that the participants range in this case from age 4 to 84. These “line dances” improve physical health through exercise, stimulate memories of youthful times, and generate social cohesion. Building community through dance is an important feature of public square dances but what makes this group unique is that they promote customs of the ethnic Nuosu (Yi)—one of China’s 55 minority groups. Interestingly, most of the Liangshan Dance Group participants are NOT Nuosu but feel special doing Nuosu movement, listening to their music, and wearing their clothes. “Becoming other” through dance increases awareness of unfamiliar practices, ideas, people, and places. First hand experience develops compassion and an appreciation of human cultural diversity.
I am an independent dance filmmaker, scholar, educator, and community activist. My current roles are as the Executive Director of Cross-Cultural Dance Resources (ccdr.org) and Artistic Director of Terra Dance Company (terradance.org).