Dance like the phoenix, sing like the luan

Luan bird, usually blue but said to be red in the 《说文解字》

鳳舞鸞歌(凤鸾)fèng wǔ luán gē
Lit: Dance like the phoenix, sing like the luan,
Fig. describes an outstanding performance (of singing and dancing)

The Chinese phoenix is not reborn from the ashes of a fire like the Western one, rather it is best known as the mythical king of the birds, and had many associations with Confucianism and academia.

The luan is best known from the epic Chinese bestiary The Classic of Mountains and Seas (《山海經》), a bird of blue plumage that inhabits wild idylls. Like the phoenix, it appears when the nation is at peace, and when songs are sung in praise of a just and great ruler. A luan bird is said to have been presented as a tribute by northwestern tribes to King Cheng of Zhou as a symbol of submission to his virtuous rule.


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