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Straight for Wardness & Robustnes

"Chilege Song" was composed by nomadic tribes about 1,500 years ago, which depicted vividly the boundless pasture land and free herding life. The herdsmen compared the heaven as an extremely large house, showing their broad mind, unsophisticated feelings and heroic spirit as the son of nature. Dances of the Mongolian, Kazakh, Khalkhas, Oroqen, Ewenki, Manchu and Xibe ethnic groups have all maintained features of the pasture land culture.

In the past, to meet the demand of a hunting life, nomadic tribes lived dispersively in yurts. Except for large carnivals(such as the "Nadam Fair" of Mongolian today), all dances are done within the yurt. Therefore, their dances are usually in 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, there are images and actions of hawks, swan and horse riding, and the "Shaman Dance" originating from religious beliefs is the most common type.

"Shaman Dance" is performed by Shaman (witches) in praying to gods, sacrificing, dispelling evils and curing diseases. It is called "Tiaodashen" by common people. The kind of dance was popular among northern Chinese tribes, a result of primitive hunting, fishing and totem worshipping activities. From the clothes, musical instruments and dance movements of Shaman today, one can find relics of primitive Culture. For example, Shaman of Oroqen and Ewenki nationalities always decorate their clothes with beast bones or teeth; their musical instrument "Zhuagu" (a drum that can be held in hand) is covered with beast skin and their performances imitate images of bear, hawk and deer.

The Manchu people call the Shaman Dance "Tiaojiashen" (inviting gods of the house) or "Shaoqixiang" (the bannermen rather than the Han people invite the gods). The Shaman ties a long bell to his or herwaist in performance and holds a drum. Gods in charge of different sectors of people's lives are invited in the sound of drums and the bells. After each god arrives, the Shaman will imitate the movements of the god. For instance, if he has invited the God of Hawk, he will imitate flying and pecking at the food on the table; if he has invited the God of Tiger, he will have to jump, scratch, spring and communicate with people on the spot; or he should play with burned incense in magical darkness, showing that the God of Golden Flower has arrived.
The Mongolian ethnic group calls Shaman Dance "Bo" or "Bo Dance". In the past, Shaman always wore a cap with a hawk-shaped ornament, a skirt with ribbons and nine bronze mirrors in his waist to show his power The musical instrument was one-sided drums. One Shaman was a major performer, the other one or two beat drums as accompaniment. The dance movements were imitation of birds, beasts or all kinds of spirits. The highly skillful one could turn round and round continuously with a multi-sided drum in hand. Such performances remain today, but dancers no longer spin that well.

Jenghiz Khan, who was thought to be "God's favored one", believed in Shaman very much. No matter in war or in other big occasions, he paid much attention to Shaman's opinions. He looked on "White Hawk" as the God of War, which could guarantee him victory. Now, people still regard the hawk as a symbol of victory. Wrestlers today go onto the racing field by imitating the hawk jump, which, they believe, can enhance their confidence. In some areas, the ceremony of "jumping white hawk" is held to Cure uncommon diseases of women. From it we see the deep influence of Shamanism on Mongolians.

The "jumping white hawk" is also called "Andai". In the past, women got depressed because of the restraint in love and marriage. Then their families would invite Shaman to dance "Andai". Singers and masses were also invited. Together with them were young men and women from nearby No musical instruments accompanied, but there were fixed rhythm and libretto. Some dance movements were composed impromptu, which were simple and standard. Led by Shaman, the masses would circle the singer and dance around her In this way, they tried to console the patient. They sang such sentences as "Spread out your black hair, Ah, Andai!" "Your friends have all been here, Ah, Andai!" or "Whom are you missing? Speak it out and you will be fine!" With the speeding rhythm, people begin dancing wildly. The patient was therefore stimulated and then got better. (Fig.2-20)

The horse is essential to nomadic tribes. Since horses understand human feelings well and know the way on the boundless prairie and help their owners out of trouble in war, they become loyal friends of nomadic tribes. Consequently, horse images are found in folk dances on the pasture land. Herds men do not simply imitate the appearance of a horse. They fill their deep feelings into the horse characteristics. By arm, shoulder and body movements, they reveal valiant and heroic bearing of horse riders and various horse images. They can be found in folk dances of "Sawuerdeng" of Mongolian and "Kuiyi', of Kazakh nationalities.

"Sawuerdeng" is popular in Mongolian residence of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Accompanied by "tambourine" (a kind of plucked musical instrument), the dance mainly depicts the horse movement and can be expanded freely. The music of "Sawuerdeng" is specially for portraying images of horses, such as the slow walking horse, the galloping: horse and the lame horse. The music is known very well by people. Performers can imitate a horse rambling on the prairie or two horses, competing with each other Though they dance in a small place, the audience can feel an artistic conception. In the climax, the music players become so intoxicated that they imitate the neighing of horses, bringing people in the yurts to a broad blue sky and boundless green field. People begin to dance at their own will. They portray the scene of milking, polishing felt or goats fighting, hawk flying. Girls express their longing for a bright future by graceful movements as "rubbing shoulders", "slightly shrugging shoulders", "bending waists" and "putting up hands and rubbing arms".

"Kuiyi" is a self-entertaining dance among Kazakh men. The word "Kuiyi" refers to all kinds of music and impromptu dances accompanying the music. Dombra (a plucked string instrument) is often used for accompaniment during the performance. Many musical compositions are named after horses, such as the "Black Walking Horse", "Bluish White Horse" and "Horse Race Melody". The lively tune is like well-balanced clatter of horse hoofs. Per formers can fully demonstrate their valor and heroic spirit. The form is free and lively. People can join the dance or retreat freely, but most of the time, it is a two-person dance. Major movements include "moving shoulder", "twisting wrist" and "turning hips". Performance is always humorous and exaggerated. (Fig.2-21)

Swans are also loved by nomadic tribes, especially by women. They have white and bright feathers and graceful posture. Girls look on the swan as a symbol of pure love and youth and beauty. One finds "Swan Dances" in Kazakh, Ewenki and Hezhe nationalities. In the swan dance of Kazakh ethnic group, women's love for the swan is thoroughly demonstrated. Their soft arms make the dance gentle and brisk. The movements from shoulder, through arm and to fingertip create a scene of a swan making ripples in water or hovering in the gentle spring breeze. During the dance, performers' wrists droop down in a static way wherever their arms are--above the head, at both sides of their bodies or one in front and one behind, which presents the unique charm of the dance among Kazakh women.

The farming and pasture culture affect one another In the "Eastern Hebei yangko" and "Manchurian yagko" mentioned before, we also see influences of the pasture land.

"Chopsticks Dance" was originally a single man's dance at marriage or festival ceremonies, under the accompaniment of a stringed instrument and people's singing. The dancer holds a bunch of chopsticks in his right hand and beats his palm, shoulder, waist and legs. Meanwhile, he shrugs his shoulder and turns round his wrist. The beating rhythm is clear and the morale high. Today, people tie the chopsticks together with a small rope and decorate it with red silks, thus making it an exquisite stage prop. Performers can hold the chopsticks in one or two hands. The "Chopsticks Dance", therefore, is spread widely and presented on the stage. (Fig.2-22)

"Zhongwan (Bowl) Dance", also called "Dazhongzi", used to be a single man's dance performed in festivals. The performer holds one Zhongzi (a very small bowl) in each of his hands, grips its edge with his index and ring fingers, puts his middle finger in it and Supports it with his thumb. A space is left for sounds to come out. When the performer shakes his wrist, gently, light, hurried, clear and melodious sounds like silver bells are heard. The dance requires high skill. In the beginning, the performer sits on the carpet, beats the wine cups lightly and begins dancing slowly. When he stands up, he stretches or crooks his arms, or encircles his chest. In walking quickly, slowly or circling, he does not stop clinking his cups. When the rhythm becomes quicker, the performance is more wonderful. Audiences sing folk songs to liven the atmosphere. (Fig.2-23)

From all the above we can see typical dances on the pasture land are mostly for self-entertainment. The herdsmen seldom use stage props. They portray activities of birds and beasts with their expressions and movements. Meanwhile, they express their love for what they are imitating. The movements and feelings combine perfectly into one. To put it simply, the dance is vigorous and strong.

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