About the驱魔舞 Exorcizing Dance

Called "the ghost opera" or "the ghost dance", the exorcizing dance(驱魔舞qūmówǔ) is a kind of dance originated from the ancient exorcizing culture of China. It is honored as "the living fossil of Chinese dance". The exorcizing dance derived from the totem worship of the clan society in ancient times. Originally, it was a dance believed capable of driving away ghosts performed at sacrificial exorcizing rituals. Later, the dance gradually evolved into a festive sacrificial performance normally staged between the first and 16th day of the first month on the lunar calendar. Today, the exorcizing dance is still performed in rural areas in Jinagxi, Guizhou and Yunnan Province.

The exorcizing dance in different areas has different performing styles. It can be divided into elegant and dynamic dancing schools. "The elegant exorcizing dance" features a grand scene and graceful dancing postures; "the dynamic exorcizing dance" is wonderful and magnificent, characterized by vigorous and forcible movements. While performing, the exorcizing dancers usually wear masks bearing the images of mythological characters. Accompaniment instruments include drums, gongs and other percussion instruments. The dancers wear masks, donning animal skins and wielding dagger-axes and shields. They dance around and utter the sound of "nuo-nuo", symbolizing the driving away of evil ghosts and praying for peace.

The exorcizing dance had great impact on various dances of the ethnic minorities, such as the Tibetan Qiangmu Drama and the Shigong (Folk Master) Ritual Dance of the Zhuang ethnic group. These two arts absorbed some cultural elements and performing skills of the exorcizing dance. Meanwhile, the exorcizing dance also had influence on local operas, such as the "Nuoshen Tune" of Huangmei Opera. The tune is exactly originated from the exorcizing dance. The exorcizing opera is the theatrical art form derived from the dance. The exorcizing opera is characterized by wooden mask-wearing performers, who dance and sing in the roles of ghosts and spirits, presenting the stories of the immortals(means someone or something that is immortal will live or last for ever and never die or be destroyed)’ life.

The exorcizing dance is a blend of multiple religious, folk cultures and arts. In 2006, it was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage.

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