Going with the Guo


Elise Chen, Staff Writer

Her red satin ribbon floating down around her, freshman Clare Guo dances in a closed room, steps deft and airy. Acoustic pop music fills the air, and all her thoughts and worries seem to fade away.

Ribbon dancing originates from the ancient Chinese dance form in which dancers perform with a long ribbon attached to a dowel rod. The ribbon Guo uses is a lighter version that does not have a rod at the end, reducing the weight and allowing her to move more freely.

“Just do you. Dancing is all about what you like, and dance can be used to represent you as a person,” Guo said. “You can do it as long as you have a ribbon.”

Guo dances for her own enjoyment, without the pressure and expectations that come with competitions. Even so, she has no reservations about dancing in front of a crowd, showing off her skills in talent shows and school dances.

“I just want to take things slow. I don’t want to do anything competitive because I already have basketball. I used to have more [activities] back then, but it was too much,” Guo said.

Guo was inspired by a ribbon dancer’s performance in the Olympics when she was in the third grade. Her older sister supported her new interest, gifting her a ribbon for her eighth birthday. Guo and her sister taught themselves using various videos, taking inspiration from traditional ribbon dances. Guo has been dancing ever since.

“I remember the first thing she taught me was this dragon- like move; we waved the ribbon up and down. It was very fun,” Guo said. “It was just something casual at first. I saw a gymnastics competition and I was like, ‘Oh, that looks really cool,’ and she got me [to do] it.”

Starting as a fleeting interest, ribbon dancing has become a freeing hobby that she enjoys in her spare time. Though Guo is busy with schoolwork and extracurriculars, she finds time to dance a few days each month.

“I don’t have dance lessons, but I like to dance to hip hop or rhythm music. When it comes to ribbon dancing, it’s more flowing,” Guo said. “I like the change of pace and how pretty it looks.”

Though her sister has gone to college, Guo continues to ribbon dance. Since then, she has added a unique touch to the dance, simplifying and combining moves to make them her own.

“The best part would be the freedom you feel when you dance. The possibilities,” Guo said. “I think that this is something that will last the rest of my life.” Ω