Yangge Dance: Let’s Party!

There are many different kinds of revelry enjoyed in cultures around the world, but in China, the largest and most popular party dance is the Yangge Dance. Yangge originated 2,000 years ago, as a religious activity to sacrifice to the land’s god and dispel evil, but now it is a recreational activity in the sowing season or on holidays.

The concept of this Yangge sun ceremony is incorporated into most of the dances by the Han nationality in China. It is performed in most areas in the basins of the Yangtze River and Yellow River. The Yangge in northern China is bold and unconstrained, splendid, and bustling, while the Yangge in southern China is exquisite, elegantand, and backed by anthemic singing. Originally, it is mainly the men that wear women’s clothes. However, with the development of times, women also join in this activity. The men and women group are in colorful clothes respectively; the men wrapped heads with towels, while the women hold handkerchiefs by hands.

The most distinctive feature of Yangge is that people dance with two handkerchiefs, or with one handkerchief and one fan. The handkerchief dance is often used to express different emotions and characters .The images created by the movements of the handkerchief and combined with particular rhythms, creates different kinds of personality. For example: ‘Rao hua’(a movement that uses the arms to create a circle ) is used to express a young woman’s (17-20 yeas old) delicate beauty and shyness; ‘Xiao yang fei’ is usually used to represent a teenager(12-16 years old) who id bold and teasing. The purpose of the handkerchief dance is to develop the technique of using the wrist and to express the different characters.

Another interesting part is waist drum dancing. A dancer with a red drum tied to his waist holds a drumstick with red silk, beating the drum while dancing. The rhythmical drum sound and graceful dance show the straightforward and uninhibited character of villagers in northern Shaanxi Province and is an expression of their happy and passionate feelings. Waist drum dancing includes vigorous movements accompanied by rhythmic drumbeats. At the climax of the dance, dancers beat drums while jumping into the air, uttering the sound "Haihai"excitedly.

During the season in winter, young people in villages in northern Shaanxi begin doing the Yangge dance and waist drum dancing in order to greet Spring Festival and Lantern Festival. The Yangge groups pay New Year calls to the households. They wish the hosts a happy New Year and do the Yangge dance in the courtyards. The hosts set off firecrackers to welcome the dancers' arrival and invite them to taste their home-made rice wine. The sounds of songs, drums and firecrackers blend, creating a festive atmosphere in the village.

Article source: http://chinesefolkcuoture.com