Chin Bamboo Dance
David
July , 2017

Chin state boasts different styles of traditional group dances. The bamboo dance plays an important role in the Chin culture. The dance is rendered in the ceremonial functions such as Chin National Day, Chin Harvest Festival, Crops Festival, etc. Since ancient times, the Chin forefathers have engaged in the practice of performing this dance to welcome the distinguished guests. Before the traditional bamboo dance garnered a widespread popularity, there had been a custom among the Chin tribes holding a bamboo to comfort a woman who had just encountered miscarriage. Furthermore, the dance was performed with the hope of providing solace to the soul of a deceased mother who had left her newborn child on earth. Over time, the horizon of bamboo dance expanded significantly. The Chin traditional bamboo dance is quite similar to the Karen bamboo dance. It is the most eye-catching dance among the Chin traditional dances. Those who take part in the bamboo dance must have same heights and good-looking appearance and the dancers wear the same uniforms. Likewise, the bamboo holders also must have the same heights and be expert in holding the bamboos. The bamboo dance requires the perfect timing of leg-lifting and bamboo-clapping. One wrong move would make one’s ankle harshly hit with a bamboo pole. This dance is very difficult and demands a precise coordinated timing between the dancers and the bamboo holders. While men hold the bamboos, women dance between the bamboos. In the performance, the dancerĀ moves by stepping alternatively in and out from between and across a pair of horizontal bamboos. Men sitting facing each other hold these bamboos against the ground. They clap the bamboos as per the rhythmic beats. Two beat support the bamboos are placed horizontally, one at each end. The clapping of the bamboos by men to make the movements of women causes a sharp sound. This particular sound forms the rhythm of the dance. It also indicates the timing for the dancing steps as well. The dancers perform various attractive steps in and out on the beats of the bamboos. Sometimes the stepping is made in imitation of the movements of birds, sometimes to show the swaying of trees. An individual family performs bamboo dance on the occasion of ‘Buhza Aih’, the Buhza Aih harvest. Basically, it is not a community dance but a dance performed by a few selected girls having extraordinary skills.

It is also performed at wedding ceremonies and on the time of merry-making to celebrate success. At the timeĀ of such occasions, a large number of people gather to watch the proud performance of bamboo dance by the skillful dancers. It is generally performed during moonlit nights that add a glory to it. At the time of performance, the sound of the bamboo hitting each other is the rhythm for the dance. But even if a rhythm is missed, the experienced dancers perform various steps with grace and care. The cheerful mood of the Chin and enthusiasm of dances are truly expressed through their dances.

 

 

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