An exploration of Andai dance
by Sharina

An exploration of the Andai dance form (from the Horqin area of Inner Mongolia) from a dance movement therapy perspective

Sharina, China Women University



Andai is a unique folk dance in Horqin of Inner Mongolia in China, and is related to shamanistic fertility worship observed by the Mongolian tribe in Horqin. The original Andai is a complete religious rite which includes such activities as therapy, prayer, singing and dancing. Even today on the Horqin Grassland, there are still widespread traditions of treating diseases both of unmarried women with psychosis and of infertile married women through Shamanic Andai dancing. However, as this time-honored Andai ritual has moved into the twenty-first century, it has already slipped the leash of religious thoughts and has been given new connotations – developing into a form of folk art for a new era and appearing as a significant physical training method for the Horqin people. As a researcher of the art of Mongolian dance, the author of this article has a deep passion for Andai.


安代是中国内蒙古科尔沁地区特有的萨满教仪式舞蹈。安代与科尔沁部落蒙古人所信仰的萨满教生育崇拜有关。原始的安代是包括治疗、祈祷、歌唱、舞蹈等众多环节的完整宗教仪式。科尔沁草原上至今流传着由萨满通过安代仪式舞蹈为患有精神疾病的未婚女子或不孕的已婚妇女治疗疾病的传统。古老的安代走到今天,已经摆脱了宗教思想的 束缚,被人们赋予新的内涵,发展成为新时代的民间艺术和科尔沁人们强身健体的重要手段。笔者身为蒙古族舞蹈艺术研究者,对安代有着深厚的感情。安代腾踏跳跃的舞姿,飞扬的绸布、悠远的歌声,深深吸引着笔者。本文将蒙古族世代传承的安代置于现代前沿学科——舞动治疗视域中,通过舞蹈治疗、拉班动作分析(LMA)的相关理论和方法、分析安代仪式中形态、功能等,揭示安代除神秘的宗教思想、丰富的舞蹈美学等艺术特征外,其所蕴含的科学性、合理性,并希望以此为个案,探究中国少数民族民间舞蹈传承的意义和发展的新动力

Andai folk dance (also called the ‘jumping white hawk’) has its roots buried deeply in ancient shamanic fertility rituals practiced by the Inner Mongolian tribes (specifically the Kulun Qi) of the southern Horqin Grasslands in China. Originally a religious rite comprising therapy, prayer, singing, and dancing, this ritual dance is still used by shamans to treat both unmarried women who are suffering from psychoses and also to help infertile married women. What is remarkable, however, is that modern Andai dance has slipped the leash of religious thought; not only has it grown into a recognised form of folk art but it has also developed into significant variants of physical training for the Hoqin people.

This analysis into and exploration of the origins, development, and therapeutic applications of the Andai dance form has become a passionate journey of discovery for the author in her role as a researcher of the art of Mongolian Dance.  The flying silks, physical jumps, rhythmic stamping pattern, and song remain identifiable hallmarks of an ancient fertility rite – but the Andai dance form has continued to grow both confidently and elegantly in the twenty-first century with new connotations and a more complex significance for the Horqin people.

This paper will identify the mythic origins, religious influences, and rich aesthetic structure of Andai dance, analysing both the form and functions of the Andai ceremony within the tenets of modern dance disciplines – namely Dance Movement Therapy and Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) theories and methods. This exploration of collective empathy and movement as metaphor as exemplified in Andai dance
aims to highlight the practical and therapeutic applications of this ancient shamanic ritual. Whereas previous research focused on styles of dance and dance terminology, this paper aims to explore the heritage, significance and developmental momentum of this ethnic Chinese folk dance; it wishes to investigate how the ceremonial structure of the Andai ritual  – together with the costume, musical instruments, songs and healing dance – contains many of the key elements of both the theory and practice of art therapy.

Facets of Andai as an art in the twenty-first century.

Andai art (as detailed below) can be traced back to ancient times. In the twenty-first century, however, it has taken on a number of fresh and vital forms. It has provided significant means for the development of folk art; Andai dance vocabulary now underscores a popular Andai gymnastics movement which is used in both primary and middle schools and also in local communities.

The Andai ritual – its mythic origins and therapeutic applications.

The origins of Andai dance are rooted in one of the core themes of human development – female reproductive ability. Such reproductive potential played a key role in the social status of ancient Mongolian women who were defined by their capacity to bear children. Those women who proved infertile would have blame heaped upon them and would often be excluded from their families. To this end, several of the widely-known stories explaining the mythic origins of Andai dance concern the treatment of female infertility and concomitant psychological conditions. To fully explore and understand the origins of Andai dance we must identify those mythic stories which underscore its application and treatment of female infertility and psychological illness. The first of these tales also explains some of the guiding principles of Andai dance in its use of ritualised space and song for healing purposes.
The tale called “Uruga Andai” focuses on a girl who, long ago,  lived with her father on the Gorlos Hala. One day, she suddenly became ill: she would neither eat nor drink and laughed and cried by turns. Her father, burning with anxiety, took his daughter to see many doctors, but they could do nothing for her and there was no sign of her making a recovery. Distraught and helpless, the father had no choice but to place his daughter on a herdsman’s wooden cart and take his daughter to a faraway Mongolian town in the hope that he would find someone who could to cure his daughter of this mysterious malady. However, when they arrived at the town of Kulun, the axle of the cart broke. Seeing that his daughter’s condition had deteriorated, the father could do little except wander around the broken cart, looking up to the sky as he sang a song to express his profound grief. Local people heard his lamentation and joined him as he walked around the cart, weeping and singing. At this point, to everyone’s surprise, the dying daughter rose quietly, got off the cart, joined her father and the townspeople as they moved around the cart singing and swinging their arms. Sweating after her exertions, the girl was miraculously cured. Later, people began to use Andai as a means of curing similar diseases in young women by dancing around them and singing encouraging sentences.

In another tale, we are told of a newly married woman who became depressed because of her inability to bear children. On hearing the singing of a group of dancers, she felt so happy that she joined their dance until she was dripping with sweat. Soon after this activity she found she had become pregnant. Both of these early stories infer that Andai actually refers to the lovesickness or (absent-minded disease) of unmarried women and the infertility of married women. Specific statistics provided by folk artists indicate that it is women between the ages of 18 and 25  who suffer such debilitating conditions. No examples exist either below or beyond this age range – the age when a woman is at her most fertile.

The “Ada” Andai is a tale which refers to women to being possessed by either ghosts or a devil. Long ago, far in the northeast, there lived three princesses,: Zhalandugui, Wusenhailuoer, and Elegexila. Possessed of magical properties these three princesses roamed widely, gliding through the air. When their shadows rested on the bodies of girls and women who lived on the ground, those girls and women became ill with unknown diseases which proved difficult to heal. In order to save these earthly women from such suffering, the Buddha Sakyamuni taught Shamans a technique for curing this disease. As each patient sat, beating a drum and a small cymbal, the Suhai shaman and Gadsau (the singer) would sing and dance around her until she had recovered. In the early days, the core emphasis of this Andai cure was primarily vocal – hence the title of “Sing Andai”.

Another ancient tale identifies a similar ailment coupled with a singing cure even more clearly.  Some 1200 years ago, a singer named Andaiqin could, by performing the Sing Andai, attach the Andai ghost to a human body and drive that person insane. Also by singing, Andaiqin could reverse the process and effect a complete recover. When Andaiqin died, only shaman in the Horqin area could cure this kind of disease. This story emphasised that the malady known as Andai came about as a result of ghostly possession; contact with some unknown force from outside the human body led to this disease.

Reading these mythic stories, we recognise the goal of the Andai ritual was and still is to cure various physical and psychological ailments. To this end, the ritual of Andai has been equipped with certain functionality. Dance movements embedded in the Andai ritual are echoed within the culture, individuality and psychological state of the Horqin area and have clearly been explored and utilised as dance/movement therapy.

The Andai Ritual: the collective empathy of Kinesthesia

The ancient Andai ritual is structured in the following way:

First comes preparation. A shaman will meet with the relatives and friends of the patient to decide the time and scale of this ritual – usually between the period of summer hoeing and autumn harvest. The ritual can last up to seven days (short), twenty-one days (long), and even up to forty days (longest). An area of ground is then selected, measuring some twenty-one double steps in circumference. The soil within the chosen area is then dug to a depth of three feet, paved with weed or horse dung and then covered with wet soil. This new surface is tramped firmly down in order to increase the elasticity of the ground. And last but not least, an axel is set in place.  Such precise organisation of the site (and the inclusion of specific objects within it) is rich with symbolic significance. An axel (echoing the broken wheel which not only halted the progress of the ancient herdsman and his ailing daughter but also formed the core of her recovery) is placed at the center of the ritual space. Behind it, there may be erected a golden pillar redolent with calico, hada or even lanterns. The author believes that a link between this rural community and the overt phallic decoration used in the ritual is clear. The people of the Horqin area believe that the Andai disease is primarily a yin disease and so a cure can be effected by “treating yin disease by yang method” and “combining yin and yang”. The author also believes that the symbolic layout of the objects within this circular formation establishes a field of trust for the patients – implying sex through visual association – and allows them to release emotions safely during the Andai ritual.

This next preparatory stage of the ritual is led by a shaman who draws an image on kraft paper of a dog holding a giant horse. On the back of the horse sit three white magical princesses. A pair of shoes is fastened between two trees with strings and a paper house, bundled with straw, is also suspended. Below these hanging items, a hole is carefully dug.

The shaman holds the “Five Glede Whip” in each hand, along with a treasured sword or a single drum, as two people make their way onto the stage. The Empress sits on a chair and is served by people playing a constant rhythm on a drum and small cymbal, while the song “Praising the Whip” is sung.

The patient enters the marked area of ground supported by two handsome ephebes. Her palms pressed together and her hair covering her face, she takes her place on a bench beside the axle and picks up a joss stick. All the people form a circle around her as both the shaman and the singer enter the ground praising the whip and consoling. The singer switches his right hand with left hand held akimbo. The patient is then given a sign to raise her head or to switch her hands simultaneously outside of the body and then to the middle of her legs. While she is completing these actions, the singer (still singing) examines the lacuna of hairs carefully asking for the source of the disease afflicting the patient.

If singing the song of “Hezhulie” does not prove effective, then the singer changes to another consoling song such as “Bore”.

Now the singer sings a new song called “Praising the Tea” while the patient drinks tea presented to her.

After drinking the tea, the patient becomes more energetic and begins to dance. As her movements accelerate, so the audience’s mood becomes more upbeat. It is clear that both dancers and singers are moving towards the climax of the ritual. The singer begins the song “Dulengzhang” while the patient speaks and dances with movements echoing those of the shaman. Many participants alternate and repeat various phrases of the song, forming an antiphonal chorus, stamping, stepping hand-in-hand. The singer slips in and out of the crowd following the patient.

By this time, both the patient and the participants are beginning to tire, so the shaman moves towards the conclusion of the ritual. He takes the patient and the singer to the front of the paper house where the song “Elengwa” is sung, Now it is time to harness the house. Led by Shaman, the patient throws herself on the paper house, burning both the image and the paper house together.

Led by the shaman, people have danced and, in doing do, have guided the patient to dance with them. A cure has been effected. Such a process is integrally linked to the logic of dance/movement therapy and of kinesthesis – establishing a collective empathy in the perception of body movements without reliance on the five senses. In the Andai ritual, the shaman’s movements help create a kinesthetic experience for the patient and those who surround her. Led by the holy songs and by the rhythmic movement of the shaman’s stamp and dance, the patient has become gradually infected by collective consciousness.

The collective empathy of kinesthesia
As has been mentioned earlier, the Hoqin shamanic dance belongs to the non-visualized dance category; the circular organisation of movement echoing a godly presence. The circle is the first spatial concept mastered by early humans prior to codified linear movement. “This circle may use a person or an object as the center [in order] that its power either can radiate to the people around or can be reflected from the surrounded people.”(Curt Sachs, 1992) The original shamanic dance was mostly in the form of “poussette” – directly linked to human anthropoidal development. Susanne k Langer believes that the poussette and round dance (the chosen forms of dance) were irrelevant to the spontaneous jump, since they were performing holy functions — that is, distinguishing the holy kingdom from mundane world. Such dance – created and contained within a circular form – was centered around a sacrificial altar or other similar construct. Within in this magic circle of dance, all vigor and energy could be released. (Susanne K. Langer, 1984)  Such directional emphasis of circular movement in a prescribed space guides the energy and motion of the dancers within the circle and increases the gravitational field of direction towards the centre of the circle.

The importance of the circle as a functioning space for the Andai ritual has clear application in the field of dance/movement therapy. Marian Chace, the pioneer and founder of dance/movement therapy, believes in the idea of “dance for communication” and explains how non-verbal body movement can be effectively used in the treatment of patients with psychiatric illnesses. (Fran Levy, 2005) In her “Chace Technique”, she recommends that healers should form circles during both the warm-up and closing stage of treatment. She sees this as an effective way of establishing a coherent structure within groups and believes that each individual within such a circle (including the therapist) gains feelings of trust and of both giving and receiving support. Circular dance can also create a strong sense of collective empathy and group sharing.  Within the Andai ritual, it is the shaman who plays a dominant part within the circle, controlling the rhythms and emotional expressions of the entire ritual. He uses a belled whip to lead people in dance, and those who follow the shaman’s motions, share their own repeated movements with others as they sing pulsating folk songs. An empathetic response to such rhythmic movement and song becomes a therapeutic combination in itself; such a powerful collective dance can effectively create emotional experiences in patients who are the focus of such activity and treatment. Such a  field of trust established through a sense of collective empathy and, with an infective unified rhythm and the support of safe props such as shawls and long-sleeved garments, the Andai ritual transfers and dispatches unhealthy and harmful emotions through the circle and beyond its circumference. There are several hierarchical circles within this Andai ritual: with the patient at the very core of the activity, the shaman dances around them in order to drive away the devil from their bodies, whilst additional participants dance around the shaman in order to increase his power and effect a full recovery for the patient.

Movement as Metaphor in the Andai  Ritual

“A metaphor is a symbolic representation. A bodily metaphor is a symbolic representative expressed in the form of bodily posture or movement.” (Linni J, 1985) In dance/movement therapy, the relationship between movement and psychology runs deep; movement often reflects personality;. Such changes in aspects of movement, therefore, can influence the function as a whole, and so movement takes on a symbolic function in indicating subconscious processes. (Li Weixiao, 2014) Physical movement can be perceived as the externalized expression of inner psychological processes, so both the observation and experience of bodily movement are direct and effective ways to communicate with psychological states. The acknowledgement and application of movement as metaphor allows us to facilitate the improvement of original psychological states based on such information as an individual’s own pattern of movement and their physical responses to those around them. Movement metaphor is one of the essential tools of dance/movement therapy.

Professor Shaun McNiff explains in “The Arts and Psychotherapy”, that the expressive art therapist is one who treats the characteristics of his clients and their art work not as intellectually defined percievable properties of body, voice, and behavior and art [but as a] product [of] expressive manifestations of the person’s state of mind. (Shaun McNiff, 1979) We find an entirely harmonious and complementary view expressed within LMA: the movements of human body contain the themes of duality – of function and expression. It is expressive movement that reveals both the human body’s intrinsic impulsion and reason of movement.

Movement metaphors have obvious applications in both the fields of primitive and religious art where movement becomes not only a perceived action but the symbolic language of primitive thought.  The relationship between a fantasy expressed in symbolic form and a true object is both direct and identical. Such duality is expressed in the shamanic dance at the heart of the Andai ritual – a ritual clearly influenced by the primitive religion of the Horqin. The author has selected an example of a dance movement with a regularly occurring fixed pattern within the Andai ritual.

The Andai Ritual: Stamping

To place a foot on the ground with focus and with energy is not only recognised as a movement specific to anthropoid forms , but can also be seen a form of emotional outlet for primitive human emotions. This simple movement is easily controlled by the brain and is a natural, instinctive human movement which satisfies the need to vent energy.  When an individual repeats such a movement , a regular rhythmic pattern occurs, and when this pattern of movement is repeated within a group setting, so a primitive awareness of uniform movement comes into existence. It is by this process of continuous stamping that humans have improved the quality of their bodies, have asserted the development of individual and have established a sense of collective behavior.

The action of repeated rhythmic stamping actions plays a key role in the Mongolian shaman dance. According to a secret history of the Mongols, when Hotula was proposed as Khan, the Mongolian tribe danced and prayed for him. The author found a picture on the cliff painting in the Shanyin Mountains of Inner Mongolia which vividly depicted basic dance  movements as would have been used in ancient times. In this cliff painting, dancers wore prominent headwear, waistbands and long gowns and were depicted as being slightly bent at one leg with the other elevated. The inference – and natural gravitational pull – would suggest that they were about to stamp. Stamping rhythmically is a consistent feature in Andai dance and participants in the ritual are guided by its unifying rhythm. Those people who are judged to be either insane or drunk are not be allowed to participate in the Andai dance, since the disharmonious rhythm they create may disturb the will of the shaman, and such a breaking of rhythm might result in the failure of the ceremony. IThe Andai ritual, in its form as dance art, recognizes that both tune and rhythm are of paramount importance. Participants must t conform to the regular pattern of stamping. A clapping of hands to reinforce the established rhythmic pattern created by the stamping can also required. During the ritual, if a participant’s boot is broken and their foot is swollen because of stamping, they will move to the center of the circle to increase the sense of rhythm by shouting.

The action of stamping – which is an instinctual human response –  has been absorbed and inherited by Andai. If we explore this physical action more deeply and express the texture of the stamping action through the vocabulary of Laban Effort, we can understand that the texture of the stamping motion is rectilinear with direct attention. The movement itself is quick; all energy gathers in the legs which are stamped quickly on the ground, releasing directional, focused energy and indicating a gesture of unbridled freedom. Both the texture and metaphor of this movement are closely connected here.  The shamanic belief is that people become sick because something bad has entered their body or their spirit has been controlled by devils. This means that expulsion is at the crux of their healing – driving away the bad things which have made their patient ill. It is difficult, at this point, to ignore elements of witchcraft which permeate the Andai ritual; its is the shaman who takes the central role in this ritual and who, with the assistance of participants who sing and dance around him, seeks to drive the devil from their patient’s body and restore them to health. According to the “multilayered universe” of Mongolian Shamanism, devils come from underground and seek to harm people, but they are afraid of people who possess powers which do not exist in the natural world – those powers created by human voices and musical instruments.  I referred earlier in this article to the careful preparation of a site for ‘Da-Andai’ ritual in Kulunqi. The rhythmic sound produced by such unified stamping on such a surface would produce a much greater resonance than simply stamping on un-prepared earth and would frighten any  devil who was present in the patients’ body, forcing it to leave its host. The action of stamping is a vigorous one, and such regular movement has proved top be another effective (if often unintentional) cure for some diseases. During the Andai ritual, the shaman encourages his patient to stamp hard, throw their head back and wave their hands dramatically.  This aerobic activity allows patients exercise their muscles sweat profusely and echoes closely such activity used in current dance/movement therapy.

According to Laban Effort, the action of stamping combines elements of speed, weight and direction. If we combine the application of such effort in dance and movement therapy (together with the principle of supplying the shortage), we can see that the effort of stamping the foot in such a way is is contrary to the typical effort of depressed patients, which can best be described as indirect, slight and persistent. Under the combined emotional stimuli produced by the collective stamping and resounding singing which surround them during the Andai ritual, women who have developed psychological illnesses as a result of infertility have found not only a relief from their pain but an easing of their anxiety and frustration by giving vent to their innermost feelings in such a highly physical way. Although the Andai ritual does not directly address elements of sexual behavior in their treatment, the stamping movement so integral to the ritual has often remedied incidences of infertility. It may be that the patients, participants and even the shaman of the Horqin area are quite simply following to the ritual of this holy ceremony and the concomitant beliefs passed down from their ancestors rather than fully comprehending the crux of Andai as a therapy. Regardless, they have unintentionally enriched this most ancient of human movements.

Shamanic musicianship: the role of the belled whip

Musical instruments take on a deeply symbolic role in shamanism. The shaman enters the spiritual world using the power of musical instruments and battles with devils under the protection of these ritual implements which they also use as weapons. In the Andai ritual, musical instruments become the externalized form of the shamanic experience. One of these instruments, the belled whip, is used throughout the Andai ritual and is the significant musical instrument identified with the shaman as he guides the route taken by dancers and leads the patient towards healing. The belled whip is some two feet long with two bells and two small bronze mirrors at its base.  Its tassel is made of five silken strands of different colors entwined together. The shaman believed that the sound of the bell was not only an omen of the approach of gods, but also echoed the sound of violent storms and roaring waves which were heard during the battle between the shaman and devil as he made his way to the spiritual world. The bronze mirror is the guardian of safety; its light (gathered from the rays of both the moon and the sun) aids the shaman as he seeks out the harmful devil who is concealed in darkness.

There are several metaphorical uses of the belled whip in shamanism: it can function as a drumstick and can also can be used as a whip as the shaman gallops galloping across the battlefield when he is in his altered mental state. The belled whip can be used as a vessel which allows the shaman to travel around both mountains and sea. It can also be used as a weapon used for repelling the devil. In the Mongolian language, a drumstick is called a “Zhaxiguri” which means “snake”. Ancient shamans adored ferocious, large animals and in ancient Mongolian shamanism the snake was a symbol of exuberant male fertility. In the Snow Worship Ritual of Manchu shamanism, a god puppet named “Chuchukuo” is adored and worshipped and is represented in a circle ice engraving which looks like male genitalia surrounded by a snake. After the snow worship ritual, childless couples are required to consume the ice god puppet in order that they might acquire the right of fertility from the god. The belled whip of Horqin Shamanism – a manifestation of this drumstick – is taken to have the same efficacy.

From the shamanic point of view, beating and touching patients with a musical instrument has strong symbolic significance. The act of touching and kneading an infertile patient during the Andai ritual is clearly linked to sexual intercourse. In “Heaven Father and Earth Mother” – a witchcraft dance of the Dong minority – a woman holds a drum-head (which symbolizes cysthus) and a man holds a drumstick which symbolizes the male genital organ. As the woman and man dance together, the drumstick and the drum-head rub and twist together, symbolizing sexual intercourse.

As I mentioned in an earlier description of the various stages of the Andai ritual, the ceremony begins when a patient is carried to the center of the transcribed circle with her hair covering her face. The shaman, leading the dance, has the belled whip in his right hand. With that right hand akimbo, he moves three times around the patient and then holdsthe belled whip above her head.  This is to bring the patient to her senses. After witnessing some reaction from the patient, the shaman strikes her teeth of the patient three times (this has been called “Big Teeth Boerpu”) causing the patient to start and to make some slight movement. As the shaman raises the belled whip up, so the patient also raises her head to follow the arc of the whip. In making such a move, she sweeps her hair back from her face to fall behind her; now she has fully accepted the leadership of the shaman will begin to dance under his command. Later in a dance between shaman and his patient, she will prostrate herself on the ground while the shaman attracts her attention and communicates with her by shaking the belled whip in front of her. Most of the content of this conversation between shaman and patient is that of enquiry and comfort and allows the woman to give vent to her inner anguish. If a shaman believes that a woman has been haunted by the devil, he will strike the ground a number of times with the belled whip as his patient rolls on the ground a corresponding number of times.

In ancient Andai ritual, the traditional belled whip was the musical instrument of the shamanic dance leader. As centuries have passed, however, the arcing swing of the belled whip has been echoed and enhanced by participants swinging their sleeves, handkerchiefs and gathered waistbands – all of which have contributed to the indispensable element of current Andai dance— their use of silk. The vocabulary of Andai dance has transitioned from such simply delineated movements as “stamping and turning down” (in earlier times) to incorporating a more complex series of shoulder movements (constant elements of Mongolian dance) and including additional movements as “onrush forward”, “step knee jump” and “brandish silk with two arms” which enhance the overall rhythmic experience of the ritual. Such an increase in complexity – and movement away from the more streamlined metaphorical movements of the belled whip – indicate an asthetic appreciation and enhancement of the original ritualised moves embedded in the Andai ritual.

Integrative treatment in the Andai ritual: the libretto

There are many layers to the Andai ritual – not only the ritualised organisation of space, the progression through song and dance with specifically identified movements and props – but also the process of libretto gathering. This is a therapy based on the comprehensive method of musical drama and reflects the core beliefs of the shamanic ritual. Additionally, the pioneer of the subject of art therapy, Joseph Moreno, has given a very positive affirmation on this term. (Joseph Moreno, 1988).

The curative properties within the Andai ritual are expressed through movement, but, like all expressive art therapies, this treatment has drawn various artistic disciplines to it and embraced them as a creative whole. The shaman not only leads the patient and the crowd in rhythmic stamping movements, but also sings Andai songs which complement and enhance these rhythms. The lyrics of such songs usually reflect the natural world and the lives of the people and can also function on a metaphorical level. Such an example is quoted below:

If it’s a sunny day and there’s no cloud in the sky, how could the dew fall?
If there’s no love since ancient times, how could the joyful songs exist…?
The scarlet sun is hanging over the sky, once the floating clouds come over, and it will become an overcast day.
Marriage [without] following your heart is just like falling into abyss…
The pure white bird, with maculae on its chest,
Your comely body has disease in your heart.
Though a look of misery had lasted for years and covered your heart and lung, Now your long cherished wish will be satisfied, and you are ensured with a clear mind. (Su Geyou, 1995)

This libretto of Andai song reflects elements of the natural world but also functions on a metaphorical level to explore the life experiences of those who sing them. Andai song, supplementing dance movements undertaken in the process of curing a patient, can sympathise with her current circumstances, stimulate her mood and induce an emotional response. Such songs, linked with hypnotic, rhythmically intense dance moves as part of the Andai ritual, contribute in no small way to a benign transformation of the patient.


The Andai ritual of the Inner Mongolian people of the Horqin region, with its profound cultural connotations and its gradual metamorphosis over hundreds of years, remains an impressive and dynamic art form to this day. Its development and growth from an ancient ritual embedded in myth and legend to a ceremony imbued with practical applications has allowed it to make a safe transition from a mysterious religious ceremony to a popular form of entertainment. It belongs, safely and confidently, to both rural and urban areas. Now when we study such minority folk dances, including this example from the Inner Mongolian Andai in China, we are able to do so from the perspective of dance therapy and come to a deeper understanding of the ritual itself. To explore the art of this ritualised dance form not only allows us to rediscover its rich ethnic and cultural heritage but also enables us to explore it through the growing discipline of dance therapy. This enables us to accept and adopt the cultural mores and body patterns identified by the Horqin people and to combine such ancient movements with western principles and modern methods of dance therapy.



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