Although their fellow competitors may be a few decades younger, the spirit of China’s latest up and coming dancing troupe keep them quick on their feet.
The Rainbow Troupe is made up of eight middle-aged Beijing residents who lined up for their first Irish dance competition this month in the Chinese capital Hong Kong.
Possessing a shared love for the worldwide phenomenon Riverdance, the group joined together to try out the steps for themselves by watching videos of the show, and hoping to learn for themselves this beloved art form. Although it may take them a much longer time to master the steps, their enthusiasm for the sport keeps them going and keeps them fit, despite their otherwise hectic work schedules.
Taking part in the 5th International Feis and Championships, hosted by the Hong Kong-based Echoes of Erin School of Irish Dance, the Rainbow Troupe now hopes to make its ways to Europe and continue competing on larger and larger stages.
“I am in pretty good shape for a 50-year-old because there are endless health benefits to Irish dance,” said Wang Weidong, who has a busy lifestyle advising clients who wanting to invest in global stock markets.
“It trains my stamina, improves my muscle strength and even my brains,” he continued, stating that he plans to use Irish dance to keep active into his 80s.
It has become more than just a casual hobby for some, however, with group member He Yingxian, a woman in her 60s, successfully competing as an individual and winning two bronze and a silver medal at her first feis.
Already suffering from an injury that put her out of action for six months, He Yingxian, like Wang, plans to keep going as long as her body will allow.
“I don’t know how much longer can I dance, but I will dance till I can’t,” she admitted.
With their sights set on Europe, the group are also now on the lookout for a new teacher with their current instructor set to leave the country later this year. Up until a year ago, the group learnt steps simply from watching Riverdance before meeting Polish Irish dancer Dominika Cedro.
With Cedro currently finishing up her Master’s degree, she will leave China next month but the colorful group hope to find a replacement soon.
Although also admitting that it may take longer for this particular batch of students to pick up the steps, Cedro praises that the enthusiasm and enjoyment the Rainbow group reap from Irish dance.
“They can convey the happiness of dancing, which is something you cannot teach,” she said.
“I hope they (the troupe) will continue because I think they have too much love and passion for dancing to just stop.”