Zhuang Opera and Shoulder-Pole Dance of Zhuang Ethnic Group

Zhuang Opera, which is also called Zhuang drama, is a stage acting art with a history of several hundred years, developing from various Zhuang folk literature, music, dance and acrobatics. According to its style, it can be classified into South Zhuang Opera and North Zhuang Opera. It can be also classified into Shigong Opera, Guangnan Opera, Funing Opera, Longlin Opera, Tianlin Opera, Dejing Opera and Hanlong Opera according to its different areas, dialects, arias and acting arts.

Zhuang Opera carries unique nationality features and local characteristics. They are mostly written in Zhuang dialect in four-lined verses with five or seven characters to each line. They can be also written in the rhythm structures like that of the folk songs. The arias and melodies are based on folk songs and folk melodies. The acting is diverse in style, which mainly includes dancing and singing with spoken parts serving as links. Zhuang Opera also has a whole set of obbligato, costume and stage properties. The traditional list of plays for Zhuang Opera are as follows: Pan Gu, Wen Long and Xiao Ni, Bu Ya, Nong Zhigao, Si Jie Decents to the World, Liu Er Beats Ghost, Unbinding Mortar, A Flower, Precious Calabash, Red Bronze Drum, One Hundred Birds Clothes and etc.

The Zhuang people are good at singing and dancing. From the frescos on the cliff of Flower Hill, we can get a glimpse of how the ancient Zhuang people enjoyed their lives by dancing jubilantly.

Most of the Zhuang dances, characterized by true-to-life emotions, are concerned about their own working, love and life. Some famous Zhuang dances include: Shoulder-Pole Dance, Rice-Husking Dance, Tea-Picking Dance, Rice-Transplanting Dance, Shrimp-Catching Dance, Silk-Ball Dance, Bronze-Drum Dance, Water-Bailing Dance, Triumph Dance, Bee-Drum Dance and Board-Shoe Dance.

Shoulder-Pole Dance is a typical dance that depicts the Zhuang people’s working. It is usually composed of four parts, namely “rice-transplanting”, “water-lifting by using waterwheels”, “reaping and thrashing” and “rice husking”. The Shoulder-Pole Dance is well received among the Zhuang People: the actors, shoulder-pole in hand, sing and dance up and down around a wooden groove. Simple as it is, Shoulder-Pole Dance is grand in style, strong in rhythm and takes on a jocular and convivial atmosphere. It demonstrates vividly the main working scenes of the farmers, from seedling to husking. Even today the Zhuang people still enjoy Shoulder-Pole Dance when the New Year comes.