Dances

Have you ever asked yourself a question why people dance?

Why do they dig out traditional folklore, practice for countless hours, count steps, make music, ponder on choreographies, go through the motions until the rhythm pulsates in their blood, stitch up special costumes and then grit their teeth and go out in hopes to enthral the senses and hijack the hearts of their critical audience?

 

    

 

Since times immemorial, dances have been an important element of life of every community in the world. They were used for powerful rituals of healing, passage and divination, marked important seasonal events, narrated legends, expressed hopes, let individuals show their proficiency and let teams present their togetherness, but above all they have always uplifted moods, strengthened the sense of identity and – in war and in peace - served as displays of power, tribal or national identity, pride and unity.

 

 

The riot of colourful costumes, serene, stately walks, dynamic whirling, powerful highland jumps and prideful tribal show-offs mean unity in multeity; they mean that the many faces under bright or toned hats, crowns, caps and headbands from all the ethnic groups merge into one radiant face of our beloved Tibet. Tibet which is neither ours or theirs; Tibet which belongs to all, is cherished by all, and is always there – in every note we sing and in every step we take. Tibet which is an inalienable, inherent part of the free world.

 

 

True to our mission, we dance it all; the powerful Black Hat ceremony, magical Deer Dance, folk dances from all provinces of Tibet and dances of ethnic groups, dances of our second country India, and antics of magic snow lions, sharing with you our joy, energy and hopes.

We dance to make people proud of their heritage and feel united with the worldwide diaspora of Tibetans. We dance to keep the tradition alive and to make it part of the present day. Does it work? See for yourself. Below you will find a selection of videos made during our performances.

 

 

 

SENG-TSE  (Snow Lion Dance)

The snow lion is a mythical creature. Its idea  is present in the mind of every Tibetan. It is a dream, fantasy and piece of reality that connects all Tibetans with their faraway homeland. It symbolizes fearless and elegant quality of the enlightened mind, the majesty of Dharma and freedom of Tibet  and represents all living beings rejoicing when human beings contribute to  the harmony of the  environment.

It is said that the milk of the snow lioness contains special elements to restore  health and harmony of the body. Some of the holy medicinal pills are believed to contain some essence of such milk.

 

Music instruments: drum, cymbal and flute

 

SHANAG (Black Hat Dance)

This is the dance of the tantric yogi who through his knowledge and practice of tantric arts destroys negative forces of evil. In the 9th century, a spiritual practitioner disguised himself as a Black Hat dancer, carried his bow and arrow under the long sleeves and assassinated Langdarma, the 42nd king of Tibet who was anti-religion. Ever since, this dance has remained popular as a symbol of victory of good over evil.

 

Music instruments: giant telescopic horn, drum and cymbal

 

SHA-CHAM (Deer Dance)

The sacred deer represents one of the messengers of the protectors. Legend has it that 1000 years ago, Gyalpo Digchen (a notorious character) was killed by a person practicing the tantras. This dance emanates from the very heart of the person, thus becoming the living symbol of a miraculous power able to destroy negative forces. The deer performs a dance in which he symbolically cuts an effigy of evil into pieces, turns them into positive forces and throws them in all directions.

 

Music instruments: giant telescopic horn, drum and cymbal

 

DRANYEN SHABDRO (Dance of the Lute Players)

The young lute players perform a variety of quick foot-stepping dances to the rapid, catchy music of the Tibetan lute. This dance is typical of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. The songs which accompany the music and dancing are still very popular among Tibetans. We present here a romantic love song from the streets of Lhasa of the days of old, which  a working-class boy is singing to a girl from an upper-class family.

 

 

 

DROPA DRODUNG (Drum Dance)

The drum dance is one of the oldest dances of Tibet; its origin  is popularly ascribed to a famous eccentric saint called Akhu Tonpa. It was said that this form of dance was performed at the historic inauguration of the construction of the first Tibetan Buddhist Monastery Samye in Tibet. While dancing, the performers sing a song in praise of His Holiness Dalai Lama. This particular dance style is from Lhoka, district to the south of Lhasa.

 

Music instruments: drum and cymbal

 

 

TASHI SHOELPA (Song of Good Luck)

The song and dance of good luck is from Lhamo, one of the oldest Tibetan operas. Although this form of opera is now extinct in the full form, a portion of the ritual performance has survived. After the dance, performers toss  handfuls of barley or flour in the air as an offering to the spirits of the environment for their protection and blessing.

 

 

Music instruments: drum, cymbal

 

BOD SHAR CHOK KYI RALPA (Dance of the Gypsies)

In the Kham region of eastern Tibet, there were groups of wandering gypsies who travelled from place to place singing and dancing. Most of their songs praised  the great yogi Milarepa and his disciple Re-chung-pa. Their dances were usually very acrobatic and robust and were believed to bring good fortune to the village in which they were performed.

 

Music instruments: drum, cymbal and piwang

 

NGONPA DHON (Ritual Dance of the Hunters)

This is a ritual purification dance that is performed before the commencement of every folk opera. The mask characters are called Ngonpa or hunter and are supposed to represent the deity Vajrapani. The girls wearing five panelled crowns with large rosettes at the ears serve as a chorus,  representing Dhakinis or Goddesses. This dance is meant to subdue evil and to purify the stage.

 

Music instruments: drum and cymbal

 

CHAM (Mask Dance of the Queen)

This mask dance represents a symbolic spiritual performance by Tsunmo, the queen of all wrathful deities. The wrathful appearance of her face symbolises Tsunmo's displeasure with unworthy acts and encourages practitioners to be compassionate and kind to all beings. Tibetans believe that in a period of violence like today, when evil is tormenting virtue, when people are in a state of madness and when people damage and destroy nature and the environment with passion and hatred, it is important to invoke Tsunmo to help the world.

Music instruments: giant telescopic horn, cymbal and drum.

 

 

SUKYI NYIMAI CHULEN

This is an extract from one of the Tibetan opera called Sukyi Nyima and shows how the exceptional beauty of Sukyi Niyima, the heroine of the opera, enchanted the hunter who lost his way in the forest. Traditionally, the performance of this opera would last the whole day.

Music instruments: drum and cymbal

 

 

YAK-TSE (Nomadic Sene)

This   nomadic sene is an extract from  Tibetan folk opera  Achi Lhamo. The yak is the main beast of burden and a most useful animal, used for transportation and also ploughing farms. The female of this breed, known as Dre gives  milk, from which many delicious items like cheese and yoghurt are made.  Yaks are gentle, gracious and the most beneficial to the people of Tibet.

 

Music instruments: drum and cymbal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choe Kha Sum (Dance from Three Provinces)

This harmonious  dance represents the unity of Tibet's  three provinces: U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo.

 

 

 

Tags: