The traditional Chinese fan dance has been a part of Chinese culture for over 2,000 years. The dance was first introduced during the Han dynasty and has been a central part of familial life since that period two millennia ago. The fan dance is considered a folk dance that serves many different purposes, and there are two primary distinctions in the dance: civilian and military.
The Han Dynasty is considered the first Chinese dynasty that cared about promoting and preserving artistic tradition. This is the primary reason why the Chinese Fan dance is still practiced today. The dance is usually learned from an older family member and is often performed at cultural festivals and other civilian events. This form of the fan dance usually includes colorful fans and other props. The military form of the dance uses no props, as it uses coordinated movements and weaponry to demonstrate uniformity and authority. For some, the fan dance is purely a form of entertainment. Historically, it served as a way to pass down customs and folklore, as the performer would act out stories and legends for their family and guests. The costumes worn during the fan dance are often determined by the purpose. For a civilian fan dance, beautiful costumes are worn, and the dance resembles a ballet performance. Military fan dances have no costumes, as the soldiers perform in uniform.