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Dragon Dance

"Dragon Dance" by Jonathan Machen. Used by permission of the artist. www.jonathanmachen.com

Reflections on a Chinese dragon's many feet, with a "Partner Song" finale
Recipient of Top Honors in the Waging Peace Through Singing Project
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander

The clever lyrics of this upbeat song describe a Chinese dragon with many different feet, a wholehearted affirmation of diversity within a community.

Predominantly sung in unison, with a syncopated “partner song” finale. The verse of this song is "swung," and the chorus is "straight." A bass player and drummer may be added in performance, if desired.

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http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/dragon_dance.mp3 SA, piano - Choral Score
2'00" ME SEA-001-03 $2.25
Sheet Music
http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/dragon_dance.mp3 SA, piano - Choral Score
2'00" ME SEA-001-03D $1.50
Licensed PDF

Dragon Dance

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander

Behold the Chinese dragon, the toast of New Year's Day,
With legs of nearly every shape and size.
They dance in all directions, and in such disarray,
I fear he'll fall apart before my eyes!

The head goes left and the tail goes right,
The feet go fast and the body goes slow,
The front end pushes and the back end pulls
and there seems to be no plan —
But hey, no matter!
The dragon stays together.

Some feet are wearing sandals, or moccasins, or pumps,
Or boots with laces trailing on the ground.
The dragon bends and stretches, its body sags and humps,
But somehow that old reptile gets around.

The head goes left and the tail goes right,
The feet go fast and the body goes slow,
The front end pushes and the back end pulls
and there seems to be no plan —
But hey, no matter!
The dragon stays together.

I marvel at this dragon cavorting in the street,
This multi-ped made up of such extremes.
I wonder how he functions with all those different feet?
What keeps the beast from splitting at the seams?

The head goes left and the tail goes right,
The feet go fast and the body goes slow,
The front end pushes and the back end pulls
and there seems to be no plan —
But hey, no matter!
The dragon stays together

Composer's Note: 

I put this song under "Children's Choirs," because it's children who most often sing it, but adults enjoy it, too! (It was originally composed for a whole congregation to sing while a Chinese dragon danced up and down the aisles.) Its engaging jazz harmonies, colorful piano accompaniment, and easy-to-learn countermelody make it a memorable selection for both singers and audiences.

Performers: 

Choir and Congregation of First Unitarian Society / Elizabeth Alexander (Madison, WI)   * Premiere
Children's Choir of First Unitarian Church of Ithaca/ Elizabeth Alexander (Ithaca, NY)
Children's Choir of First Unitarian Church of Portland / Mark Slegers (Portland, OR)
Children's Choir of Unitarian-Universalist Church of Fulton /  Judi Herz (Fullerton, CA)
Linwood Elementary School Chorus / Kim Kroesch (Saint Paul, MN)
Union Elementary School Chorus / Mattie Banzhaf (Unionville, CT)
Young Naperville Singers Chamber Choir / Angie Johnson (Naperville, IL)

 

 

 

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