Dance of the Thousand-Hand Guan Yin

In the United States, if a government run school were to attempt teaching young, deaf and/or disabled students in the art of an intricate dance and required them to drill, drill, drill as if they were in the Marine Corps, humanitarians and feminists (due to the scantily clad pretty women) would cry foul and soon there might be pressure to make it illegal and hold investigations. There might even be boycotts and protests.

Then, similar to a recent rail accident in China, other critics of China infected with the Racist Sinophobia Virus (RSV), which is a learned mental illness, might chime in to crucify the Middle Kingdom once again for crimes against humanity reminding us (with lies and exaggerations) of Tibet, censorship, etc.

From China (Thousand-hand ~ Guan Yin ~ 千手观音 )

However, when it was established in 1987, the China Disabled People’s Art Troupe (CDPAT) was an amateur performance troupe supported by the government with members recruited from around the country.

That changed in 2002, after the troupe’s first commercial performance. The China Daily said, “After its first commercial performance. In 2004, the troupe made 10 million yuan (US$1.21 million).”

Tai Lihua, the lead dancer and chairman of the CDPAT, has visited many countries with her troupe. They have performed at the John F. Kennedy Centre in New York City and the Teatro alla Scala in Venice, two of the world’s most prestigious theatres.

The dance of the Thousand-Hand Guan Yin is named after the Bodhisattva of compassion, revered by Buddhists as the Goddess of Mercy, who is a compassionate being that watches for and responds to the people in the world who cry out for help such as the deaf and disabled members of the CDPAT.

Being deaf and mute, these disabled performers endured pain and suffering in vigorous training simply to deliver a message of love, and when you watch the embedded videos and see close ups of the performers’ faces, you will see the dedication.

When I first watched this video, I was reminded of Amy Chua, the Tiger Mother, and how she relentlessly drilled her daughters in piano and violin. US critics raged at this after Chua’s memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was published.  However, the oldest daughter, Sophia, now attends Harvard and still enjoys playing the piano.

In fact, if you click on Sophia’s name and visit her Blog Post for August 25, 2011, you would discover, “When I practiced piano yesterday, I worked on cadences.”

Often, the rewards of enduring the pain and suffering it takes to achieve near perfection in an art such as playing piano or learning intricate dances comes only after years of challenging and demanding repetition.

What’s amazing about the dance troupe is that all the performers are deaf, making the choreography to the music even more incredible, and the difficulties encountered in training are beyond imagining.

However, four instructors, who can hear and speak, signal the rhythm of the music from four corners of the stage/room, and with repetition and diligent practice, the performance is nearly flawless.

Discover more in Silence to Beauty, which is about the art of graduates from China’s Shandong Provincial Rehabilitation and Career School.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

Comments are welcome — pro or con. However, comments must focus on the topic of the post, be civil and avoid ad hominem attacks.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: