In this segment, Jingzian Zhang, a retired professor of Chinese opera, discusses a form of dance influenced by the Chinese practice of Tai Chi. The traditional Chinese art of Tai Chi is a system of movements and breathing techniques used to promote physical health and mental well-being. The movements take on many variations in daily practice throughout China as a form of exercise and active meditation. Tai Chi practitioners often use objects, such as fans or swords, to help them concentrate and develop balance.
The video segment provides a glimpse at the practice of Tai Chi. The Tai Chi sword dance requires deep concentration to focus on each movement, so Jingxian Zhang, a teacher of traditional Chinese performing arts, takes a moment to settle her breathing and align her posture before beginning the dance. Following the subtle flow and peaceful sounds of the music, Jingxian moves her body slowly, remaining calm while tensing and releasing her muscles to promote circulation and flexibility. The music is a traditional piece called “Summer on the Spring River.” The tune paints the picture of a beautiful evening night, with people quietly sitting in a boat enjoying the moon, the smell of flowers, and the peaceful sounds of night on the water. For the mind, these images provide a calm environment on which the dancer can reflect.