One of the classes I do got an assignment from the administration the other week. They were to learn waltz and be camcorded. The purpose of the activity was to showcase the “Let’s Dance and Let’s Sing” project, which the provincial Education Department has been trying to popularise among high schools in Hubei in the past two years. This class is among three chosen at random from the high schools in town to participate in the performance.


A Helping Hand


The number of boys and that of girls are not even in this class, so some boys could not be paired with a girl. They had to be spectators. The class had to learn and practise for one hour and a half every afternoon before supper. Practising was tiring, so the president of the class suggested that the spectators offer a helping hand. During a break, they went and fetched drinking water for the dancers. The performers felt great when a drinking glass was put in their hands. Mr Zhu, a boy who rarely talks with his classmates, was infected by the camaraderie, and therefore became more communicative during the activity.




Miss Chen’s partner was initially Gong. When they were dancing, she was alarmed by Gong’s tense and rough hands. She felt very uncomfortable. “Do all the boys’ hands feel this way?” she asked herself. An outgoing girl, she touched more male hands during the break. To her surprise, most male hands felt rough and stiff; only several boys had soft hands. She compared notes on the matter with Miss Zheng, who said that if a boy has rough hands, he is good. According to Zheng, a pair of rough hands means that the boy is diligent; soft hands indicate the boy is a loafer. “Don’t you notice Shengliver’s? They are rough!” she commented.


A Kind Man


Because Gong was too nervous dancing with Chen, he changed his partner. His new partner was Miss Yang. They did wonderfully, for they used to be deskmates and knew each other very well. The problem was that Gong knew that Yang and Han the boy had been very close recently, so he joked that Han would probably beat him for dancing with her. Yang said, “Don’t you worry, Gong. Han is a very kind man.”




Daily practice exhausted the teens. All the classroom lessons had to be taken as usual. The dance took place after the third period, when it was time for the evening meal. The amount of their homework was all the same. They found it was hard to cope. Some said that they were so tired that they could not concentrate on the teacher or the homework in the classroom.


The Sunday before Qingming, the teens were ordered to come and practise in the morning. So they had to do without their Sunday morning sleeping late. Mr Zhang went to the workout without any breakfast. When it was over, he was so starving that he rushed to the canteen. The meal, unfortunately, did not whet his appetite, probably because he was dog-tired. He then went to the dorm, only to find his dirty clothes were to be washed. He did the washing by hand, after which he went to the classroom. Trying to take a nap in the classroom was really painful, with his head on the desk. At 3 pm, he had to attend his Sunday afternoon lessons, which are set by the grade leaders with the aim of enhancing the learners’ knowledge and skills. At the lessons, he struggled to keep open his eyes. The effort was futile, however, for the eyelids were too heavy. It was not long before Mr Zhang drifted into slumber despite himself, and sweet dreaming started.


A Perfect Ending


After practice and rehearsal, the climax finally came the day before Qingming. The cameramen came, the music was on, and the dancing was recorded on the football pitch. The performance lasted less than 10 minutes, and the dancers did a fabulous job. The cameramen praised them; the class director, who is normally poker-faced, became all smiles at the closing ceremony; and the spectators hailed the dancers as swans.


Most teens were concerned when the activity started that they would have to waste loads of time. Yes, the time had to be put in. Yet, as it progressed, they changed their idea. They came to realise that it was worth it. First of all, the dance cemented the bond between the youngsters. Before the activity, unity was lacking among them. After it, harmony was evident. Second, the boys and girls ended up understanding each other better. They came to see a classmate of the opposite sex in a new and realistic perspective. Hands, for example, come in all senses—soft and rough, cold and warm, relaxed and rigid. Third, a tighter schedule forced them to budget their time more wisely. Juggling dancing with their regular lessons and homework was very awkward indeed, but it is a life skill that everyone has to master sooner or later.


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