A brief history of Zhanjiang Dragon’s Dance
Dragon Dance have been existing for more than 400 years, up to now it’s still one of the main folk event of the Dongshanxu Village Dongshan town of Donghai island, Zhanjiang, Guangdong province. Dragon Dance is also called “Oriental unique skill”. Its feature : several ten people or several hundred people compose a big “dragon” without stage property, costume or accessories, for instance the head, the body and the tail of the “dragon”, even the tongue, the eye and the horn. While the gong and drum ringing together with horn, “Dragon” begin to dance, at that time the “Dragon” raise its head, “writhe body”, “moving tail”. It seems you see the beginning of the Dragon’s construction. The Dragon nodding its head, then action begins : the Dragon goes across the cloud, the Dragon combers and so on, as the Dragon coming out the sea, overwhelming to come in front of you. Showing that active, that brave and fierce, that’s remarkably true to life. Not only dragon expresses both grace and power, but also symbolizing the wisdom and strength of the local people.
According the record of “The geography and customs in Haikang county”, which have been edited and published in begin of 20 century : the first person play as the head of the dragon, and the last person ‘become’ it’s tail, the dragon’s body is constituted by boys, one boy holding the previous one with hand, his feet clip the following one, one by one building the Dragon.
In ancient time, the Dragon’s dance was important folk, custom and leisure event in a large aera. Every Spring Festival (chinese New Year), Lantern Festival, Mid-Autumn and other special happy occasions, here the Dragon Dance used to last several evenings, every house in eastern and western old street in Dongshanxu village were decorated with lanterns and streamers. These events always drew large crowds of cheering spectators, perfect people ‘become the ‘Dragon’, and Dragon’s Dance change into spirit of unite, that’s à really perfect sight.
The hometown of Zhanjiang Dragon’s Dance is very simple village, called Dongshanxu. This village is composed of two main streets, and other narrow streets or alleys. One of the main streets is located in east west side, called Zhongshan Street; the other one is located in south north side, called Datong Street. This village have several houses and ten several buildings, its total area is less than one square kilometer, more than 1900 villagers and more than 400 families live there. Always the villagers uphold the spirit of Dragon, they’re all very proud of the Dragon’s Dance.
List of event about Dragon Dance
1. On April 1994 year, the Zhanjiang People Dragon Dance Artistic Troupe has been invited performed in Celebration activity of Labor Day “1st May” all over the country, that play has received high praise from the Beijing’s people and foreigner.
2. In 1997, the Zhanjiang People Dragon Dance Artistic Troupe has gotten the honor “ The town of National Folk Art”.
3. In 2000, the Zhanjiang People Dragon Dance Artistic Troupe was shot by Zhanjiang TV, it called “The spirit of Dragon” and won golden prize of music program in the Second National City TV Station and so on.
4. In 2002, the Dragon Dance won golden prize of Zhanjiang’s invitation competition in Guangdong province folk and artist show.
5. On October 2004, the Zhanjiang People Dragon Dance Artistic Troupe was invited to attend The First Chinese Island Culture Festival by organized Yuhuan Islang in Zhejiang province.
6. On October 2005, the Dragon Dance composed of 115 persons were invited perform in Red Land Art Festival of Zhanjiang, and won Golden Prize.
7. On July 2006, the Zhanjiang People Dragon Dance Artistic Troupe became one of representative non material culture relic in China.
In order to protect non material culture relic-Dragon Dance, the Party commission and Manager commission from the Donghai Island, supporting strong Dragon Dance became one kind of folk and art culture.
Even a lead group was established to protect and develop Dragon’s Dance and Dragon’s Dance Artistic Troupe. They had tried to stable the member of performers and improving their play skill. At the same time, they asked for concerned with department and school, where grow new performers, in order to continue to strong the team of Dragon’s Dance. Now, there is already 8 ‘Dragon’ composed by more than 380 pupils training in 12 different schools, and they continue strong propaganda, popular and education knowledge about Dragon’s Dance. The content of teaching material about Dragon’s Dance in school, ensure the Dragon’s Dance to continue from one generation to the other one; let them active to prepare and hold the Culture Festival of Dragon’s Dance, and hold competition of Dragon’s Dance’s showing, specially the spirit of Dragon’s Dance effect mass and import place in mass. Now the Party commission and Manager commission from the Donghai Island, have planned the project about performing Dragon’s Dance in opening or closing ceremony of the Beijin ‘s Olympic Game in 2008.