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Xinghua's stilted dragon dance takes on the main stage

etaizhou.gov.cn|Updated: February 29, 2024

Xinghua city, administered by Taizhou city in East China's Jiangsu province, has developed an art form named stilted dragon dance, which is a combination of the popular traditional performances – stilt walking and dragon dance.

Such a challenging folk performance is a cultural heritage that has been passed down by the people in Gaojiadang village in what is now Duotian sub-district, Xinghua.

In the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when other clans moved in from neighboring areas like Suzhou and Kunshan, they decided to celebrate their ancestors and various gods, thus people began to host temple fairs during the dragon boat festival.

During this period, two locals – Gao Dewen and Zhang Hejun – proposed combining the two folk activities to enrich the temple fair.

They visited masters in Xinghua and Yancheng to learn the techniques and further improve this new art form. Thanks to the efforts of countless generations, this folk art has matured and developed its own unique style.

The stilts used stilted dragon dances are made from cedar wood, and have a height of about one meter. Unlike other dragon dances in Xinghua, the team's movements are guided by the holder of the dragon's head rather than the dragon pearl holder.

These performers dance to a lively tune played on percussion instruments like gongs and drums, which make the performance powerful.

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Xinghua city's stilted dragon dance has a long history. [Photo/article.xuexi.cn]

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