The Dance of a Thousand Hands

Robert Traynor
April 4, 2016

gd6Throughout Asian religion, the name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World” and translated into English it means Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy. In fact she is often compared to the Virgin Mary in Western Catholic religion and painted holding a child.  Such was the orientationgd1 of master dance choreographer, Zhang Jigang.  Zhang, is an internationally acclaimed Chinese choreographer and a Lieutenant General in the People’s Liberation Army. He was the former director of the Song and Dance Ensemble with the People’s Liberation Army before promotion in 2006 and now holds the highest non-combat military officer rank in China.  He is the only choreographer to receive the crown title of “Century Star” in the country, and is responsible for the creation of more than 300 large-scale productions in over 60 countries.

Zhang Jigang was born December 25, 1958 in the ancient Chinese city of Yuci located in the Shanxi Province in northeastern China. As a boy, he was influenced by Zhong Ziwu (Cultural Revolution Dance). In the 1970s and 1980s the Zhong Ziwu offered a departure from tradition and generated innovation and creativity, promotion of participation in cultural production, and a vigorous promotion of the modern principles. Zhang began formal dance training at the age of 12 and by age of 17, he was working as an established choreographer for the Chinese government. In the 1980s he received the highest national dance award called Quan Guo Wu Dao Da Sai.  In 1988 he enrolled at the Beijing Dance Academy where he graduated with a degree in choreography. He would later return to university and finish with a Masters Degree in Political Science.

The period from 2000 to the present has been a time  of international acclaim for Zhang Jigang.  Aside from receiving awards in Hollywood California, North Korea, Japan and Monaco, he has created a number of multimillion-dollar large-scale productions that subsequently toured America, Australia, Italy and Spain. He currently gd4resides in Beijing, China with his wife Zhang Lamei.

Probably one of his largest successes was the “Dance of a Thousand Hands”.   This dance is performed by 63 deaf dancers of the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.   The China Disabled People’s Arts Troupe was established in 1987.  The disabled members, either deaf, blind or retarded, are normal workers, farmers, students andgd7 employees. The Art Director and other staff in charge of stage art, lighting, audio effects, costume design, vocals, instrument playing and dancing are all leading domestic artists. Because they cannot hear the music, six conductors in white cloths help them synchronize with the music.  This dance describes the legend that Bodhisattva Guan Yin has one thousand hands. Bodhisattva is a Proto-Buddha. She can not become a Buddha because she is still attached to this world. Her vow: “If there is still a single drop of tear in this world, I will not become a Buddha.”  The video of the production is extremely interesting, especially when considering that all 63 of the performers are deaf. How do you get 63 deaf people to coordinate such a production?  While some of the video is in Chinese, the first 6 minutes of the video presents the hard work that goes into each production by the China Disabled Arts Troupe and the last 4 minutes is the Thousand hands dance …..Check it out…Click on the picture


As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart
A thousand hands will naturally come to your aid
As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart
You will reach out with a thousand hands to help others

Zhang Jigang



Lin, D. (2016).  The thousand-hand Guan Yin.  Retrieved April 4, 2016.

Ministry of Culture (2003).  China Disabled People’s Arts Troupe.  Retrieved April 4, 2016.

Wikipedia (2016).  Zhang Jigang. Retrieved April 4, 2016.


Ebay (2016).  Statue of Guanshiyin.  Retrieved April 4, 2016.


Green Media Studios (2011).  Guanyin or Kwanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.  Retrieved April4, 2016.

birdsong hearing benefits

Leave a Reply