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Square dancing reshaping neighbourhoods of China


04-17-2016 14:44 BJT

With the rapid pace of China's development in the past three decades, the old community culture that was forged during the planned economy is gradually falling apart. But square dancing, which has aroused lots of controversy in the past several years, is showing its potential for reshaping China's new neighborhood culture.

CCTV reporter Ge Yunfei visited a community in Beijing and watched what changes square dancing has brought.

It's four o'clock in the afternoon, and now I'm standing in the Rendinghu Park in downtown Beijing. Every evening, hundreds of people from nearby communities will be flocking to this park to discover entertainment. Let's see what they've found.

Standard movements, professional footsteps, and all dressed in uniforms... This is the Golden Sunshine dancing troupe. The 18 members of the team are all retired women from one community. Every two days, they gather in the park, to perform what are called 'square dances' before the crowds. As China's population ages, spontaneously formed dancing groups like Golden Sunshine are sprouting in huge numbers across China.

Public squares and city parks have become places of great social activity for China's elderly. But what is happening here is also having an influence on the everyday interactions and social structure of each one's neighborhood.

"Yes, the square dancing has changed our community a lot. In the modern society, people in the neighborhood didn't talk to each other that much like in the old days. The whole community lacked of cohesion. But dancing makes us re-uninted, re-connected and bring vigor and energy to us," said Yu Chunlin, founder of Golden Sunshine Dancing Troupe.

Yu Chunlin founded the troupe eight years ago. Her initial thought was to find some entertainment after retirement both for herself and the neighbors. Yet day by day, her troupe has become an important pillar that unites the community. 

"We have a great influence here. And I may be the kind of community leader as you described. We not only help solve disputes within the neighborhood, but also go out perform for charities. We do make our community a better place," Yu said.

Yan Beiying is the dancing teacher in the troupe, but she is not a professional. In fact, she spends most of the time learning dances from the internet. 

"My spare time is almost all occupied by the square dancing, but it's really worth it. In this neighborhood, they all respect me for what I've done and I'm really proud of it.With all the efforts we made, we feel our community is now safer, warmer and closer," Yan said.

Yan said, she has seen remarkable changes brought by the square dancing to her community, and also to herself. And she loves to contribute to making it even better.

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