folk dance is a rich and colourful performing art with a long history.
There are a great number of vivid dancing figures on stone carvings,
frescoes, paintings and other historical relics which were created
some thousand years ago. The first Chinese poetry collection 'The Book
of Songs' recorded the grand occasion of singing and dancing of young
people living in the Central Plains. Court orchestras of successive
dynasties often performed dancing programmes of different national
minorities and many celebrated singers and dancers appeared. Among the
people, folk dance is even more popular, rich and colourful with
various styles and forms, some of them reflecting work, love, customs
or wars and some depicting natural scenes, flowers and birds. In form,
dancing and singing are combined. It is thus very effective and
expresses the people's feeling thoroughly.
China has a vast territory inhabited by many nationalities, each of
them very good at dancing and singing. Because of different living
environments and customs, folk dances of different nationalities and
regions vary greatly. They are loved by the people. After the founding
of the People's Republic of China , the Chinese government has been
carrying out the policy of 'making the past serve the present and
foreign things serve China', of 'letting a hundred flowers blossom'
and 'weed through the old to bring forth the new'. The government has
helped to greatly develop Chinese folk dance by building numerous
professional and amateur dance troupes which have been exploring,
arranging and creating a great number of programmes and at the same
time, through cultural exchange, have been drawing experience from
music has a very long history. Songs and dances had already appeared
as early as four to five thousand years ago in the primitive society,
Among the excavated cultural relics, there is an egg-shaped wind
instrument: Xun(ocarina), made of pottery clay with six holes in it of
the Neolithic Stone Age. Seneral times in Chinese history, musical
culture was flourishing in the Zhou Dynasty (11th century-256 B.C.)
and large-scale orchestras appeared at court. Musical culture in the
Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) was so developed that it ranked among the
best in the world and exerted great influence on the development of
music in Japan, Korea and countries in Southeast Asia.
Generally, Chinese music can be divided into five categories: song,
dancing-and-singing music, ballad-singing music, Chinese Opera music
and instrumental music and each has various styles, types and forms.
There are ancient art songs and folk songs in the category of song and
folk songs can be further subdivided into labour songs, mountain airs,
ditties, epic songs and songs with multiple sound of voices. Even the
mountain sough could be so different in style because they developed
in different regions with different national minorities. Take Chinese
instruments as another example: there were already more than seventy
kinds of instruments in the Zhou Dynasty two thousand years ago, and
today, more than two hundred kinds of instruments are in use. These
instruments are divided into four groups: wind instruments, bowed
string instruments, plucked string instruments and percussion
instruments. These instruments, all rich and expressive, can be used
either as solo or group instruments or as ensemble and orchestra.
National dance drama is a new theatrical form in China though as a
performing art which combines dance with singing, it has a long
tradition. Much of its repertoire has its origins in Chinese classical
operas, traditional dances and folk dances. Carrying forward Chinese
traditions and learning from European ballet, Chinese choreographers
created a number of dance dramas after the founding of New China.
The Chinese national dance drama has a wide range of subjects, some
are adopted from historical themes or fairy tales and some reflect
present life. The movements mainly come from classical dances in
Chinese operas or images on historical relics as well as from folk
dances of all Chinese nationalities. It has now become a rich and
flourishing art and won the favour of the people.
Famous and representative dance dramas are 'Silk Road ','The Precious
Lotus Lantern', 'The Uprising of Small Sword Society', 'Zhuowasangmu',
'Flying to the Moon' and 'The Pearl Lake'.