Cogongrass Goose and Waving Dance
"Cogongrass Goose" is an original drama Tujia people adopt to commemorate the achievements gained by their ancestors' exploiting the wilderness, fishing and hunting. It is prevailing in Tujia areas, such as Yongshun, Longshan, Guzhang of western Hunan Province.
Though "Cogongrass Goose" is still not a ripe drama form, there is already ancient story plots simulating the ancestors' life and work. The content is expressed through the dancing and spoken parts. Usually 15 people are needed. The performers wear the cogongrass cap of neat spire, with the head pitched with the grass pigtail, and the whole body wrapped up with the straw, to symbolize the hairy ancient people. At the time of the performance, there are simple settings. One performer appears and dances, followed by the others. They dance joyfully, shake the whole body of straws, rock the grass pigtail at the head, and sing and dance in a twisted voice. The content includes slash-and-burn cultivation, round-up hunting, fishing, welcoming the bride, a teacher who is teaching, swinging a torch and so on. It is unique from style to content. Performers speak the local, colloquial expression; and sing the folk song from the beginning to the end, but dialogue is the main style, and the audience can answer and insert lines too. Performers may sing, dance, jump, turn a somersault and make games. They may also take quick and short steps to advance and retreat, bend knees and tremble, jump and wave in all directions, shaking head and shrug. All the performances imitate the ancients' rough but lovely appearance and manners. It is interesting, funny, and humorous.
The traditional dances of Tujia include "waving dance", "jumping with drums", "copper bell dance", "horse-vaulting dance", "eight-plait skirt of thin silk dance", and "beautiful mountain and festive lantern". "Waving dance" has the widest influence, a traditional singing and dancing form loved by all the Tujia people.
"Waving", called "Sheba" in Tujia language, is originally a collective dancing with primitive religion nature that men and women sing and dance together so that there will be no misfortune. It used to be held after dinner from the sixth day of the first month of the lunar year to the 15th day. At that time, people gathered before the "waving hall", held and offered sacrifices at first. Then they beat drums and gongs, and lit the fireworks. Every dancer, men and women, dance to enclose a circle, and change their gestures according to the drum beat, advancing and retreating. Usually, the hands dance in the same direction with the feet. Two dancers make a group, kick and wave rhythmically, advance and retreat lightly, and swing the waist. The dance looks strong and vigorous. The styles and content have a great variety. Every dance changes the style once in a week or every two weeks, reflecting different contents such as fighting, hunting, farming and daily life.
Although "waving dance" is simple in style, it has beautiful postures, vigorous movements, and the atmosphere is very cheerful and warm. Therefore, it has always been very popular with Tujia people. After the founding of New China, the waving dance is exploited, co-ordinated and innovated by many national literature workers, and has become much more featured with its entertainment and building-up functions. It is an excellent program inseparable to the stage and daily life of Tujia people.
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