Xi’an, China 2016 Report

The Silk Road...

The city of Xi’an, (pronounced She-ann), is in the the center of China. It was on the “Silk Road” and has been the center of many ancient empires. It is many times older than Beijing by thousands of years. The old city wall that surrounds old town was built in the Ming dynasty, around the 17th century, and is still in good condition.

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that connected the West and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the many civilizations of China over many decades.

The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length. The trading route was started during the Han dynasty (way before our western calendar starts), but they traded way more than just silk.

The Chinese took great interest in the safety of the Silk Road, so they extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of that trade route.

Folk Drumming Music

He Lu = Lu Lu, is a Level 3 VMC graduate who will be attending all of the 3 China Playshops. Her Village "Hejiaying” is on the outskirts of Xi’an. The break down of the village name Hejiaying is:

He = Also Lu Lu’s family name

Jia = Family 

Ying = Military Camp

The name of Lu Lu’s village came from the fact that hundreds of years ago, it was a large military camp for the protection of Xi’an which was the end of Maro Polo’s Silk Road. The Lu in He Lu’s name means “Jade.”

There are only 6 traditional Folk drumming/music groups left in China today. The Xa’an Hejiaying drum music group is one of them. The band consists of different sized and shaped drums, including a “Lion Drum.” The Lion Drum was originally a war drum that was played before battles. The music group also played different types of gongs, and flutes, including the Sheng, a reed pipe wind instrument made of a handful of tuned bamboo reeds.

The Xa’an Hejiaying drum music group has been continually functioning since the Tang Dynasty, more than one thousand years ago. The Music has been passed from generation to generation for that long. Lu Lu’s family has been involved in that particular group for longer than they can remember. Her grandfather and her grandfather’s grandfather were drummers in the group.

Traditionally the father teaches the son but not the daughter, but that rule was broken in 2004 when they allowed women to participate. Now it is a family affair and I saw about 50/50% men and women in the group when I was invited to watch them practice. A rare and special musical treat that took me back a few thousand years.

The government built a compound around the village’s old traditional practice building. There is no date on it but I was told that it was built over 400 years ago. It is still in great condition. In the compound the government also built a modern-day concert hall that has the same old oriental look as the original practice building. On the top floor of the concert hall is a museum that holds all of the ancient folk logic instruments, gongs, lutes, and drums that the Music troop still has in their possession but no longer uses.

Tibetan Buddhist Temple

Xi’an holds one of the few Tibetan Buddhist Temple’s in mainland China and I got to visit it. The reason that the temple still exists so deep in mainland China is that it is really classified as a  Chinese Buddhist temple (that is a very close sister to Tibetan Buddhism but with enough difference that it can be classified as Chinese), so it is protected and preserved as Chinese. But with all the Tibetan trappings, flags, prayer wheels and Tibetan architecture, it sure looked like a Tibetan Buddhist Temple to me.

The whole temple site has many ancient buildings housing golden buddhas relating to the Buddha called the Green Buddha Goddess and her Sister Goddess, the white Buddha. The biggest Buddha in the compound is two stories high and housed in a temple that had a second story library surrounding the buddha statue. It holds hundreds of ancient volumes and scrolls written in the ancient Chines script. Because of Mao’s little red book revolution, these ancient volumes are now almost extinct.


The auditorium of the Huange kindergarten school is where we held our 3-day Facilitators Playshop. The word Huange is the name of the Yellow River that flows near this area of the city. It’s also the name of our Hotel and a quarter of the stores in the three blocks in between the hotel and the Kindergarten school. Our training had 2-hour lunch breaks because that is when the kids take their nap time.

Two years ago, the Chinese government changed their “One couple - One child” rule to a “One couple - Two children” rule. Because of the high value put on boys in the Asian culture, coupled with the the modern technology of ultrasound and abortion methods, many more boys were being born in China than girls until now.

Coming into the school compound in the morning I saw 300 to 400 healthy happy colorfully clothed Kindergarten kids doing simple dance aerobics, lead by their teachers to modern back beat music. Somewhere between 1 in 4 or 5 kids were girls. When this generation grows up, the women will have lots of suiters to choose from. With the ‘One couple - Two children’ rule now in place, the men to women ratio should even out in the next generation or so.

There is a more subtle advantage to this 'One couple - Two children' rule.

In the Chinese culture, the old tradition still lives, in that you take care of your parents in their old age when you grow up. When one person matures and marries, that couple will have four older parents to take care of. But if a house hold has two children, then when they grow up, the parental burden will be shared by more siblings.

There is another Kindegarden school only a block away that held the same number of kids as the one I just described.

The Playshop

Our first Playshop program in Xi’an went very well.  Out of the 68 participants, I had a nice group of Level twos to do the Challenge part of the course and enough Level threes to 1... Run the map on Saturday, 2… demonstrate Drum Call on Sunday, and 3... do the jump time tasking of demonstrating the 4-step protocol job descriptions as our last exercise.

For a Playshop mostly full of beginning beginner facilitators, it moved quickly along. Thanks to the smooth translation of Ming Ming, we moved through the course with plenty of extra time for Free Form Jump Time practice.

The closing drum circle had plenty of families and teachers from the Kindergarten school to give my Playshop graduates plenty of “Random Factors” to deal with.

He Lu is a 300% Kinesthetic facilitator and her almost wordless closing Dance-Facilitation left us all in a wonderfully relaxed trance state.

Tonny has scheduled Xi’an again for next year’s China Playshop tour.

Time to go do my third China Playshop in Hangzhou, which is at the end of the Silk Road.

Life is a dance  Arthur  {]]’;-)