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Making a song and dance about it

By Fang Aiqing | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-15 08:02
Locals stage a Guozhuang dance performance at the opening ceremony of a horse-racing festival in Litang county, Sichuan, on July 30. [PHOTO/XINHUA]

Whenever there was a wedding planned, usually in winter, Xu would be invited to sing and dance. Very few performers were skilled enough to sing traditional wedding tunes.

Other than the fixed dance steps that most people can learn, Guozhuang dance is a difficult art form to master because of the complexity of the singing, especially its tunes and lyrics.

The longest tune, for example, consists of three pieces, each requiring the performer to sing out just three words over the course of five minutes.

Xu teaches her dozens of students the most difficult part first, since many can't master it and therefore are not able to perform the whole piece.

However, nobody performed Guozhuang dance at her own wedding in the 1960s. It was a time when most of the townsfolk were living in poverty, and Guozhuang dance was regarded as an aristocratic privilege.

Xu began dancing Guozhuang around the age of 25, and it was not until she was almost 40 that she could afford a simple outfit for her performances.

Bukreng, interpreting for Xu, who speaks the Tibetan language, says a simple outfit suitable for Guozhuang dance performances costs more than 3,000 yuan ($427.8), while a more luxurious costume could easily be three times that amount, even before the accessories-which are often made of gold, silver, coral or turquoise-are taken into account.

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