Hai Yan Jackson Chinese Dance Company was established in 2007. Hai Yan was dancer, instructor, and choreographer at the Sichuan
Opera and Dance Company for more than thirty years. She now teaches at the San Francisco Dance Center
and she is a Stanford University Chinese guest teacher. The company was created
to promote the development, advancement, and appreciation of Chinese dance and
culture in the Bay Area.
Title:Qiang Ling Choreographer:Du Gao Choreography Set by: Hai Yan Jackson Soloist:Shannon Tse Music by:Feixu Yuan
In Qiang Ling, a Qiang
shepherding girl dances in a high mountain meadow to a joyful song, expressing
her love of this beautiful and bright life. She calls her sheep with hand bells
that symbolize protection, and her dance focuses on footwork patterns named
“skip shalang," “skip armor,” and “leather drum." The lyrics express
auspicious congratulations and thankfulness, while narrating family histories
and the achievements of the ancestors.
Qiang people live in the high Himalayan plateaus of China's
province—in stone villages with few modern improvements. The name Qiang is Han
Chinese for nomadic people; the Qiang call
themselves Erma. They are one of China's oldest ethnic groups,
ancestors of both Tibetan and Han Chinese. Ancient inscriptions on tortoise shells place their ancestors in the northwest
and central plains of China
as early as the Shang Dynasty (16-11 BCE). This performance is
particularly poignant, as Hai Yan Jackson has set choreography by Gao Du to
honor thousands of Qiang schoolchildren killed in Sichuan's 2008 earthquake.
Like many of the world's ancestral people, the
Qiang people never developed an historical script, but preserved their history,
culture, and traditions in physical symbols: the integrated and expressive
language of folk song and dance. In Qiang communities everyone sings and
dances whenever possible, often times until dawn. Sometimes the singing is a
capella, and some dances are accompanied by traditional instruments: Qiang
flute; an ancient six-scale clarinet with double pipes; small gongs; hand
bells; suona trumpet; and sheepskin drums.
Traditional Qiang clothing is a loose gown topped with a
sleeveless wool jacket, and often, cloth-bound hair and legs. Women wear lace
collars decorated with silver and pointed, embroidered yun yun shoes, among
Thirteen-year-old soloist Shannon Tse is passionate about dancing, and has studied ballet
since she was five. She also studies Chinese folk dance, modern dance, hip-hop,
and jazz. Qiang Ling was created in
2006 by Professor Gao Du from Beijing
and was set by Hai Yan Jackson in 2009.