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CHINESE THEATRE AND DANCES. 193
the modern writers claim that they were at their best in " the good old times,") it seems that the ancient Chinese, endeavored in the dance, to reproduce an easily-comprehended allegory of the natural actions of men; the movements, gestures, attitudes, and evolutions, all to be natural and easily understood by the spectators. Since the days of Confucius, this simple style of dancing has fallen greatly to decay.
In those days many of the emperors of China studied and understood the art of dancing. History shows many such " Davids " (although not so well known as Israel's royal dancer) in the dynasties of the empire. Autumn was the favorite season for the study of dancing, as the " feast of ancestors" takes place in the Spring, and the pupils were ready to exhibit their proficiency at that great event. The ancient practice of imperial dancing, was continued even as recently as 1719, when one of the sons of Kang-hi, of the age of twenty, performed before the emperor and his court. There are also mandarins whose duty it is to dance before the emperor; the pantomime of these is especially graceful and dignified. They advance slowly two by two, their limbs and bodies moving gently to the time of a tranquil music; they turn around without quitting their relative positions, and after a series of gestures made i» perfect unison, and some symmetrical evolutions, they make the salute of honor, and retire. This dance seems to be only a formal expression of homage to the emperor. The dress of these