A primary school principal in Linyi, China is letting children do the shuffle dance instead of the government-imposed broadcast calisthenics.
Zhang Pengfei, the 40-year-old principal of Xi Guan Primary School, introduced the much-needed change in their exercise in November.
“I wanted to introduce the [shuffle] dance … because the students and [teachers] had no interest at all in the broadcast calisthenics,” said Zhang, speaking with Southern Metropolis News via South China Morning Post.
Teachers were initially in strong opposition to the shuffle dance, but weeks later, they decided to join in for the music which they describe as being “full of energy.” The music choice plays a vital role in the routine as it “really gets the happiness flowing,” the principal said.
“This is just a small activity at our school – I just wanted to offer a different way to exercise during the class break,” Zhang said, adding that he did not expect his videos to get this much publicity.
In the viral clip, some of the 700 pupils of the school can be seen dancing as Zhang takes the lead front and center with a mic in his hand. Behind the synchronized student body is the school’s slogan: “Enjoy happy education.”
The dance, which is called guibu or ghost steps, is a shuffle dance that incorporates “modern jazz steps, with heel-and-toe movements and arm actions,” according to SCMP.
Doing the shuffle dance is not what you typically see in a Chinese schoolyard. Students in China often have to perform the same calisthenics that the government imposed in 1951 under the introduction of Chairman Mao Zedong.
All students from primary, middle and high school must undergo the same rigid workout that aims to improve one’s strength, flexibility, agility and teamwork.
As this is a government imposed routine, officials can carry out unannounced checks at schools to see if they are following the same exercise. Some netizens are worried about Zhang’s career when the government eventually finds out.
Meanwhile, locals in Linyi were not happy about Zhang’s efforts to change the exercise.
“The official exercises are based on science – they must be good for the students or the government would not have enforced it for so long,” an unnamed hotel manager said.
While some people protested, others were unbothered by the new routine, especially the children.
“This is so cool – I hope our school can do it,” Zhang Yu, a 9-year-old student from Chaoyang district, said after watching the viral video. “Broadcast calisthenics would be good for robots or zombies because they don’t feel bored or anything.”
Images Screenshot via YouTube / South China Morning Post