Trade Resources Culture & Life Shaman Dance Appeared on The Stage for The First Time

Shaman Dance Appeared on The Stage for The First Time

Aoluguya, a stage play about the life and culture of the Ewenki nationality, kicked off at the Hulun Buir Grand Theater recently. In the show, Shaman dance appeared on the stage for the first time, offering people a glimpse of the ancient and mysterious culture from the primary forest in northeast of China.

The two-hour show took Maria Suo, the last female chief of an Ewenki tribe, as its protagonist. It drew materials from her dream as well as love story, and the main cultural elements of the Ewenki people.

Famous Chinese artists Buren Bayaer and Uzyna combined music, dance, drama and formative arts together into the show, and presented the endangered Ewenki culture to the audience. With a sensitivity to the market for cultural performances, they balanced artistic quality with riveting entertainment.

For more than two years, the two artists visited Ewenki tribes in the forest several times, working and living with the local people. They even talked with Maria Suo who was around 90 years old at that time, and collected lots of information on local folk songs, dances, instrumental music, and body arts.

Through the show, audiences can learn the Ewenki traditional custom such as the worship of bears as well as the domestication of deer, and enjoy the unique traditional dance imitating the movements of deer, grouses and red-crowned cranes.

The most striking part of the show is the Shaman Dance, which was identified as a national level Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.

Shaman Dance is performed by shaman (sorcerers or witches) who pray to gods, sacrificing, dispelling evils and curing diseases. It is called Tiaodashen by common people. This form of dance was popular among northern Chinese tribes such as Mongolians, Manchus and Ewenkis, a result of primitive hunting, fishing and totem worshipping activities.

From the clothes, musical instruments and dance movements of shaman today, one can find traces of the original culture. Ewenki people always decorate their Shaman Dance clothes with animal bones or teeth; their musical instrument Zhuagu (a drum that can be held in the hand) is covered with animal skin and their performances imitate bears, hawks and deer.

In the past, to meet the demands of a hunting life, nomadic tribes lived dispersedly in yurts. Except for large carnivals, all dances were done within the yurt. Therefore, their dances are usually on a small scale. The dance style is straightforward and bold, with few steps. But the arm actions are powerful, and the wrist, shoulder and waist move briskly. In the dance, hawks, swans and horse riding are evoked, and the "Shaman Dance" which originate in religious ritual, is the most common type.

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Shaman Dance Comes to Chinese Stage for The First Time
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