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Guozhuang Dance

Guozhuang Dance

Guozhuang Dance, also known as “Guozhuo”, “Gezhuang’ or “Zhuo”, means “singing and dancing in a circle” in the Tibetan languages. It is one of the three major Tibetan folk dances from ethnic Tibetan areas such as Qamdo and Nakchu in Tibet, Ngawa and Garze in Sichuan, Diqing in Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu. There are several categories of Guozhuang, for instance, “Big Guozhang” is performed at large religious sacrificial ceremonies, “Middle Guozhuang” at traditional folk festivals and “Small Guozhuang” at parties with friends. In addition, it also can be divided into “Mass Guozhuang”, “Lama Guozhuang”, “Town Guozhuang” and “Agricultural Guozhuang”.

During the dance equal numbers of men and women form a circle with one person leading the dancers. The dance involves repeated musical dialogues between male and female dancers, in antiphonal style unaccompanied by any musical instruments. The total dance is formed by a mix of slow and fast dances with basic steps such as “straddle”, “cycling” and “marking time”. Arms are lifted, swung and shaken. Team formations move clockwise behind the leader, the circle expands and contracts and sometimes forms pictures, such as a dragon’s tail.

Diqing Tibetan Guozhuang dancing is enjoyed throughout the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, with some variations between townships. Pictures of dancing inscribed on stone tablets (steles) from the Tang Dynasty, excavated from Shiguzi village on the Li River, suggest that the Guozhuang dance has a history going back thousands of years.

The main representations of Diqing Tibetan Guozhuang dance can be found in Bengzilan Township in Deqin County, Zhantang Township in Shangri-La City and Xiaozhongxun Township. Bengzilan Township welcomes guests with some rare versions of the Guozhuang dance, not seen elsewhere in the country, such as “blessing Guozhuang”, and “praying Guozhuang”. The tunes can fall into four parts which are “Yao” (吆), “Zhuojin”, “Xiazhuo” and “Zhuocao”. Shangri-La’s Guozhuang dance includes both ancient and modern forms. “Cani” is an ancient Guozhuang with old lyrics and dance steps, typical of strong sacrificial rites, along with specific and unchanging actions and lyrics famous among devout religious and old people. “Casi” is a modern version that has adapted the old forms.

Diqing Guozhuang dance is rich in song, dance and lyrics, singing words with one paragraph of three sentences. When there are festivals, or a new house is completed, a wedding or any other suitable occasion, people of all ages and both genders will get together to dance for the whole night, both as a devotional act and for sheer happiness.

This dance has many Tibetan cultural connotations and a diverse form with obvious regional characteristics. It is also rich in national styles deeply rooted in the local population. The traditional cultural values of friendship and unity combine into strong values of art and society.