Culture Culture

29/09/2019 - 07:50

The village unicorn dance vs. the festival unicorn dance

Like in many other places, there are also unicorn dances during the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hue. The scope of the dances ranged from the neighborhood, the village, the school, etc., and there has been a unicorn dance festival for the past two years.

Photo: Trung Phan

Originated from China, unicorn dance used to be an indispensable royal art form at important celebrations such as New Year welcoming, heavenly liturgies, King’s birthday, Queen dowager’s birthday or envoy welcoming.

Later, unicorn dance teams were invited to perform at mandarins’ houses on occasions such as Tet holidays, the Mid-Autumn festival, wedding and housewarming to send best wishes to the owners.

Affected by the features of the former capital, Hue people are very careful in their choices and design of the unicorn head; and the dancing techniques are also indicators of distinctive style. Hue unicorn heads are colorful, mainly in yellow, red, blue and never in black. It is said that the skills of the designer can be evaluated through the eyes of the unicorn head. The beauty of the unicorn head is reflected in the eyes, especially its charisma, which is both powerful and amiable.

Unicorn dances in Hue were divided into different levels. The teams with more than 25 years of experience danced with a white-bearded unicorn head. The 10-year-experienced teams danced with a red-bearded unicorn head, and the 5-year-experienced teams had a black-bearded unicorn head. Despite the similarities with Chinese counterparts, Hue unicorn dances act in a deliberate and elegant manner of the royalty.

Unicorn dancers must be good at martial arts and footwork to allow swift moves and firm and stable stand, showing the unicorn’s flexibility, both rigid and feeble. Hue unicorn dance is full of emotion as it is influenced by the classical drama.

To many Hue people, the unicorn dance at a full moon night is a graceful nostalgia of their childhood in the village. They miss the echo of the unicorn dance drums once the Mid-Autumn Festival comes, and they wish they were young again to dance with the unicorn head around the neighborhood and feel so much fun of a festival for children.

And I thought it was creative to organize a Unicorn Dance Festival inspired from the merry unicorn dance during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which appeals to all talented lion dancers to perform in Hue and attracts many spectators.

The 2019 International Unicorn Dance Festival in Hue taking place during the Mid-Autumn Festival was a reminder of the peculiarities of Hue unicorn dance. The tourism industry in Thua Thien Hue has again confirmed its branding of a festival city of Vietnam and established an image of a center of festivals.

To achieve all this, tourist forms of cultural experience have been diversified and unique festivals introduced. Hue Unicorn Dance Festival has brought a gorgeous scene and briskly atmosphere of the Mid-Autumn Festival in the ancient capital and established as an annual special festival.

The simple village unicorn dance teams are loved for their liveliness while the skillful festival unicorn dance teams deserve love and admiration.

Dan Duy