01 Aug, 2023
11 : 27
Yew Chung Yew Wah Education Network (YCYW) upholds "The Three Alliances": “aligning with science & technology", "aligning with arts & and culture", and “aligning with love & charity”. To fulfil this mission, YCYW offers students opportunities for holistic development by organising a broad range of exciting activities, both in and outside of school. Chinese dance is one of many forms of art and culture that YCYW values.
YCIS Hong Kong's Chinese Dance Team, comprised of primary and secondary categories, is led by Ms Melissa Szeto and Ms Joanna Kho, who have been an integral part of the school since 1993. They teach a wide range of classes—from rhythm classes for early childhood education, to Chinese dance and ballet classes at the primary and secondary levels. Each year, they train students for various dance performances and competitions, including open days, graduation ceremonies, and opening ceremonies of sports day.
Both teachers are grateful for the emphasis that Yew Chung has placed on the development of arts and culture. This quality enhancement provides students with infinite possibilities, such as painting, music, literature, and dance, which offer spiritual satisfaction and enjoyment. Students practice diligently to improve their skills in the art they love. This helps them develop resilience. In an era dominated by technology, it has been very beneficial for students to learn about the aesthetics and beauty of the arts, as part of their overall development.
Arts and culture have traditionally been viewed as "extra-curricular activities." But they are now essential components of an education to enable students to compete on the global stage. Integrating scientific and cultural knowledge and developing a benevolent character is imperative for the students. By receiving training in dance, students cultivate diligence and perseverance and gain a unique perspective on aesthetics. This will help them gain admission to the university of their choice and enable them to identify their aspirations and goals, empowering them to forge ahead with confidence.
Year 13 students Cookie Zheng and Jade Wong are senior members of the Chinese dance team. Cookie Zheng, who has practised Chinese dance since the age of three, believes that the enthusiasm and cohesiveness of her team members are the key factors enabling them to excel in competitions. Jade Wong joined the dance team in Year 3, after being mesmerised by a dance performance and the colourful costumes swaying with the dancers' movements. The harmonious and joyful atmosphere of rehearsing and learning, as well as the support of her mentors and teammates, have continually motivated her.
Years of dance practice have had a distinct impact on both students, and each has her own sentiments about the art form. Cookie Zheng believes that dance is a physical expression of emotions. She immerses herself in various dances to convey her feelings through movements. The flexibility and elasticity required for Chinese dance have sharpened her willpower.
Reflecting on her dance experiences from primary school to the present, Jade Wong noted that her passion and appreciation for dance have grown steadily. In her early years, Jade Wong has been inspired by the exceptional dance skills of her instructors and senior teammates. and has aspired to reach their level. Although she humbly acknowledges that her skills do not match those of other dancers, she remains steadfast in her pursuit of perfection, pouring her heart and soul into every dance performance.
Chinese dance has played a vital role in Jade Wong’s personal growth, cultivating a competitive spirit that has allowed her to perform both as a soloist and as a team member. Her years of performing and competing in external competitions have bolstered her confidence. As captain of the dance team, she has developed valuable leadership skills and a strong sense of responsibility.
Chinese dance is rooted in 5,000 years of cultural history. It is an art that embodies a traditional aesthetic, passed down by generations of local people, royalty, and ancient opera. As a result, Chinese dance has developed distinctive "body techniques" and "body rhythms." Both students believe that learning Chinese dance has provided them with insights for understanding Chinese history. Cookie Zheng noted that Chinese dance has enabled her to become familiar with the diverse styles of different Chinese dynasties. For example, the flowing sleeve dance, which students have studied this year, conveys the delicate yet forceful characteristics of the Tang Dynasty dance. Similarly, Jade Wong has recognised how the historical narratives embodied in each Chinese dance reflect various aspects of traditional Chinese culture. By delving deeper into the historical roots of a dance, students can refine the technical aspects of dance movements.
This year, the Yew Chung Chinese Dance Team achieved impressive results in the competitions. Both the Secondary and Upper Primary teams won the Merit Award, the top prize. The Lower Primary team received the Grade A Award, and thus demonstrated the team’s continued success and dedication.
The success of the Chinese dance team did not come without challenges. In addition to constraints caused by the covid pandemic, the team faced the difficulty of coordinating group dances, as flawless coordination with every member is essential for the best performance. The limited rehearsal time of the team members, as well as the extremely tight schedules of the two teachers, presented significant challenges. Nevertheless, the team members took their own initiative to practice, utilising any available time to refine every detail of their movements.
When teaching new dance music, Ms Szeto and Ms Hui usually start by introducing the dance movements. They then focus on refining the dance techniques and details, and subsequently divide team members into groups to improve their dance posture and overall performance. The teachers also hold stretching and technique classes for specific members to help them overcome difficulties. During the pandemic, the teachers switched to online rehearsals and were able to focus on individual students, even while teaching in a group mode. As a result, everyone was able to make progress, even though the instructors could not teach in person.
The team frequently participates in external competitions, but both teachers agree it is more important to enjoy the process rather than focusing on the awards. "Don't be afraid to fail," Ms Szeto said. "No one is perfect. We can all learn from our mistakes and from what we don't know."
Chinese dance is more than a beautiful and graceful art form; it symbolizes traditional culture and history. Chinese dance enriches the moral values of students;, transcends time and space; and integrates into their lives. According to Ervin Laszlo, who proposed the concept of “The Three Alliances” in his 1989 book, The Inner Limits of Mankind, science and technology; arts and culture; and love and charity are not separate entities. They are complementary and essential aspects of human society.
Laszlo believes that the perfection of science and technology requires the integration of the timeless wisdom of great artists and humanitarians, for humans and society are not merely the sum of scientific facts.