Cultural Heritage
Published: Nov 06, 2022 07:04 PM
Suide Yangko festival in Yulin, Shaanxi Province Photo: IC

Suide Yangko festival in Yulin, Shaanxi Province Photo: IC

Northern Shaanxi Yangko: One of the popular rural folk dances with a long history

Yangko is a kind of rural folk dance which is very popular in China (mainly in the northern area). Yangko has a history of over 1,000 years. Records of folk dance teams started from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Northern Shaanxi Yangko is a type of traditional dance prevalent in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. It is mainly distributed in Yulin, Yan'an, Suide, Mizhi and other places in the province, among which Suide Yangko is the most representative one. 

Suide, known as the center of rural Northern Shaanxi Yangko, is still rich in traditional Yangko events, etiquette and styles, including both old Yangko in ancient villages and the new Yangko that emerged after 1942. While the old style features rituals for praying to Heaven for rain and good harvests, the new style focuses on raising morale during the Yan'an New Yangko Movement in 1942, when Yan'an was the revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China. Since then, Northern Shaanxi Yangko has been endowed with a new spirit, which has allowed it to spread throughout the country. At present, it is a major form of entertainment among local people.

Yangko in northern Shaanxi can be divided into two types: the "big field" and the "small field." Formations in the big field are flexible and include hundreds of arrangements, such as "Dragon Wagging Its Tail," "Two Dragons Spitting Water" and "Twelve Lotus Lanterns," while the small field is comprised of formations like "Water Boat," "Running Donkey" and "Stilt." It can also be categorized into the "Civil Field," "Martial Field," "Ticking Field" and "Clown Field" according to the type of movements and content. Among them, the "Kicking Field" is a pas de deux that shows love between men and women and features relatively difficult dance movements that require dancers to perform "Soft Waist," "Three Feet off the Ground" and "Standing on One Foot."  

Northern Shaanxi Yangko shows the simple, honest and optimistic character of local people and has outstanding historical and cultural value. However, with today's rapid development of the rural economy and changes in the cultural environment, there are few folk artists who have mastered traditional Yangko techniques and pure dance styles, so protection and inheritance work is urgently needed. 

In order to preserve this Chinese folk culture, it was included in China's first batch of national intangible cultural heritage in 2006.

Global Times