Popular Folk Dragon Dance Show
Popular Folk Dragon Dance Show
According to our ancestors, dragon is a magic creature symbolizing auspicious and harvest which is able to control and adjust cloud and rain. Therefore, the annual dragon dance show in Spring Festival aims at expressing actually a good wish for favorable weather, health and harvest in the following year.
Dragon dance has a long history in Caidian district. There are two major forms: Gaolong and Gunlong. The former is popular mainly in Huangling, Junshan, Changfu, Daji and Zhashan, while the latter prevails mainly in Yong』an, Zhuru, Yuxian, Caidian and Xinnong.
Gaolong: also named Jiezilong, is made up of thin bamboo strips pasted with paper by skillful craftsmen. The dragon head is in the shape of Chinese character 「乙」 and about one zhang odd long (a Chinese length measure unit, over 3M). There is a pearl in the dragon mouth and whiskers at the mandible. From the head to the tail there are totally twelve sections which refer to twelve months of a year (in leap year extra section will be added). Each section is inserted with a candle held by a person. Dragon tail is in the shape of phoenix tail. Gaolong dance is usually performed at night accompanied with gong and drum. There will be one person holding a pearl in the front and the performer in charge of dragon head should throw about the dragon head in chase of the pearl by way of many difficult movements such as revolving, scurrying and turning. Dragon body should also move with the head thus the whole dragon moves like flying and becomes alive to the spectators.
Gunlong: Gunlong is consisted of head, body and tail made of thin bamboo strips. Its three parts are connected with each other with ropes, covered by a chi-odd long yellow or cyan cloth cylinder and plastered with man-made scales to make the dragon look as vivid as a real one. The dragon body has twenty-four sections, with total length more than thirteen zhang (over 43M). Each section is lifted up by a performer with a stick so that there are twenty-four performers to attend this dragon dance. As there is no illuminating device, Gunlong dance is usually performed during the day. During the performance, accompanied with gong and drum as well as the applauses of the crowds, one performer holds the pearl to tease the 「dragon」 and the dragon head moves around in chase of it. At the same time, dragon body will also make many wonderful performances such as rolling, twisting, weltering and threading, which are so lively that the crowd even cannot follow their movements closely.
No matter in Gaolong or Gunlong dance, all the performers are required to wear costumes with the same color as the dragon. They put on silk band on head and colorful strip at waist. Therefore, the dragon and all the performers become integral. As a team work activity, Dragon dance requires excellent cooperation between performers with quick movements and their coordination with the rhythm.
Before the liberation of China, dragon dance was usually held by local leadership. From the first day of lunar year, dragon dance troupe presented their performances along the streets or in different villages. While paying New Year calls to villagers, the performers often received cigarettes or spirits in return. However, after the founding of New China, most dragon dances are in form of Gunlong, few are Gaolong. In 1980s, Gunlong dances from Caidian Grain Bureau, Zhenjianzhu, Hanlecun, Xinnong left a deep impression on the spectators; while in 1990s, dragon dances could often been seen in Xinnong, Zhuru, Yong』an, Caidian, Daji, Zhashan and Junshan, among which the dragon dances in Hanlecun in Caidian District are the most spectacular. These dragon dance troupes often present performances in great events and festivals. They can perform while standing, kneeling and lying with different team formations and movements. Therefore, they attended the dragon festival for many times and won the gold prize in municipal dragon dance competition. In recent years, Gaolong dance appeared in many streets and villages. They participated in the annual street trampling activity during Spring Festival and brought to the villagers boundless happiness.