Young dancers at Dancing on Waverly

Dancing on Waverly

[Image: Young people wearing matching multicolored outfits with very long sleeves dance on an outdoor stage.]

Yesterday I ventured to nearby Chinatown to take some photos at a free public performance, Dancing on Waverly. I found this event through the Fun Cheap SF list, which I used to peruse to find free public performances to shoot. I want to get back into that habit, as we have so much going on in San Francisco year-round.

Belly dancer at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: A belly dancer, wearing a black and silver top, orange and black skirts with black tassels, and many pieces of jewelry, dances on an outdoor stage.]

While this event was sponsored by the Chinese Culture Center, many forms of dance were featured. When I arrived, dancers from Fat Chance Belly Dance were performing and encouraging audience members to join them.

Dance performance at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: Two people wearing matching floral print tops and black pants perform a dance on an outdoor stage.]

However, I believe most of the dancers I watched were representing the Chinese Folk Dance Association. Many different styles were represented, with beautiful, colorful costumes.

Young people dancing at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: Young people in flowing costumes of different colors, with matching black, gold-trimmed vests, perform a dance on an outdoor stage.]

Young people dancing at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: Young people with matching blue and white costumes and floral headdresses perform a dance on an outdoor stage.]

Young people dancing at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: Young people with matching red floral tops and blue pants perform a dance on an outdoor stage.]

Some of the performers were very young, though a variety of ages were represented.

Children dancing at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: Young children with matching pink costumes, blue floral aprons, and red fans, dance on an outdoor stage.]

Dancers at Dancing on Waverly
[Image: Dancers wear matching flowing white and pink dresses with green trim, hold tambourines and smile while dancing on an outdoor stage.]

I’m glad I braved the Saturday afternoon crowds to attend this performance, despite being jostled by many fellow photographers and onlookers. I’ve made the full gallery available on Flickr. Support from readers like you will enable me to do more shoots like this, so please consider sponsoring me on Patreon or leaving me a tip. (Thanks to my supporters, I’m already halfway to getting new business cards!)

5 thoughts on “Dancing on Waverly”

  1. I’ve been reading stuff on your blog for a few days, and found it really thought-provoking.

    And these are some nice photos. You really captured the spirit of the dances and performers.

    I wanted to point out an issue with one of the dances, though, which might interest you since you seem to pay attention to various kinds of oppression.

    The dance with the young women in black and gold vests and red hats makes me squirm a little inside, because it’s a form of what we (in the US) would call cultural appropriation. I don’t know enough to say for sure, but the outfits look like they come from a non-Han Chinese ethnic group, maybe Uighur or Hui, but I would guess that the people performing the dance are Han Chinese. The concept of cultural appropriation as a social justice issue doesn’t really exist in China – but then again, any discourse on social issues is pretty harshly repressed in China. But oppression of other groups by the Han majority is a very real problem. You’ve probably heard of Tibet, but there’s also been unrest going on for a long time in the Uighur region of Xinjiang over policies that favor Han Chinese in the area over the local Uighur people. And this sort of tokenization of other ethnic groups that you see in that dance is pretty common too – showing off their clothing and music and dances, but not supporting other important aspects of their cultures, like their languages.

    I actually have a fairly superficial understanding of this myself – I’m white and European by birth, and I spent a year in China a long time ago, during college, but haven’t done a great job keeping up with anything. So I looked around for more reading on the topic – I haven’t found much yet, but there is this in-depth blog post about tourism and the Naxi culture .

    I don’t mean to say you were wrong for posting the photo, and I would probably have just kept my mouth shut, with an inward sigh, except I figured perhaps you’d be interested in knowing a bit more about what was going on with that dance. Or perhaps this is just my way of relieving that squirmy feeling, I dunno.

    Anyway, great shots. I’ll visit your gallery on Flickr if I get a chance and look forward to seeing more photos on your blog.

    1. Thanks for the reply and the important information. I admit almost complete ignorance when it comes to Chinese culture. If I had done more careful planning for this shoot, I would have spoken with the organizers to get detailed information on each of the performance groups, but I was just doing a walk-by. I did look at Wikipedia later to try to find the names of the various dances I photographed so I could add more detailed annotations, but there were very few photos available for comparison (another reason I’m licensing all my new work under Creative Commons).

      1. Yeah, sorry to say I’m no help there – I don’t know much about Chinese dances either. Good luck getting more info!

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