Curiosities of Music - online book

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194                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
officials is uniform, and elegant, fine silk capes, caps, etc., the only difference of costume being the buttons, with which the top of the caps are ornamented; the different color of these being indicative of greater or lesser rank. This corps of dancers is recruited from the wealthiest anc greatest families of the empire.
In the dances, every detail is strictly systemizec and observed; the very positions are calculated according to the points of the compass; thus one dancer is always placed at the north-west, anothei at the north-east, the entrance is to be made from a fixed cardinal point, the exit at another; all is rule and precision.
The number of dancers is not at present limited to that given above (sixty-four for the emperor, thirty-six for viceroys, etc.) as the ancient stan­dard. At times of great festivity, the dancers of the Imperial court are reckoned by hundreds. Such grandes ballets, are almost always symmetri­cal and in concerted movements; but there are also solo dances; in these pas seuls the dancer often accompanies himself with both song and instrument. This proves how slow and majestic the motions must be.
In dances, females very often appear, but in private only. Mandarins frequently own female dancers and singers, whose performances are reserved for their own families. It is but rarely, and as a mark of especial honor, that they allow some intimate friend to view the dancing of these slaves.






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III