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Yangko in Modern Times: a traditional Chinese dance witnesses a surge of popularity

October 6, 2018 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

The Fifth China Yangko Festival, staged by the Organizing Committee of the China Yangko Festival, raised its curtain in Jiaozhou, Shandong province, just as the setting sun created a golden glow in the twilight sky of a September evening. More than 10,000 spectators watched the opening ceremony on the night of September 20th.

Beat the gongs and sound the drums, blow the Suona horns and do the yangko… The evening performance of traditional Jiaozhou Yangko dance, Yangko in Modern Times, was the show’s finale. Jiaozhou yangko, Shanghe Guzi yangko and Haiyang yangko, also known as the three main yangko dances of Shandong province, were included China’s first list of national intangible cultural heritage, issued in 2006. Jiaozhou yangko, known for its “three bends, nine movements and eighteen postures”, is a routine where the dancer does some serious twists with the body, and is referred to in Chinese as the “living fossil” among Chinese folk dances.

The city of Jiaozhou has always attached great importance to the protection of intangible cultural heritage, and expresses its support through funding and personnel training. Today, Jiaozhou yangko, which has been popular for over 300 years, has taken on new significance as a part of China’s heritage and has begun to step onto the international stage. Several performances of the dance have taken place, among others locales, in South KoreaItalyFrancethe PhilippinesHong Kong and Macao. On the evening of the 9th of June, 42 young actors from Jiaozhou performed a dance with unique Shandong characteristics for the guests during the lighting and fireworks art show at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao, garnering much praise for China and its many cultural treasures.

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