Performances of the dream-like Tang-style music and dances, the qinqiang (Shaanxi Opera), the folk gala known as shehuo, and the Meihu Opera in Xi’an can enliven the life of you in Xi’an.
Tang-style Music and Dances
The performance of Tang-style music and dances was created according to the historical records of culture, poetry, music, dance, painting, mural and carving handed down from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Since its opening performance in the 1980s, the show has been well received by domestic and overseas audiences. It has been staged in many foreign countries and regions, including the United States, West Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia.
The Tang-style music and dances are regularly performed at the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an, on North Chang’an Road and the Shaanxi Song and Dance Theater on North Wenyi Road in Xi’an.
Shehuo (Folk Gala)
Local residents of Xi’an love the traditional entertainment shows at the folk gala, known as shehuo. The folk festive event was evolved from the acrobatic performances of the Qin and Han dynasties and became very popular in the Tang and Song dynasties. It is often held together with traditional festivals and country fairs.
Main items of the performances are the lion dance, dragon dance, dance on stilts and land boat dance. A unique item is called “Xinzi”. One to a dozen 4-5 years old children are dressed up as opera characters and stand on top of a 2-3 meters high steel pole which is decorated with paper figures of cottons, clouds, tigers and other wild beasts. (The decorative figures are as high as more than 3 meters.) The children stand side by side, form a pyramid or stand upside down on top of the steel pole. They do stunts no less breathtaking than those done by acrobats.
The Meihu Opera originated in the countries of Meixian, Huxian, Zhouzhi, Wugong and Fengxiang in Shaaxi Province. After the Ming and Qing dynasties, five styles of the Meihu Opera were formed, featuring elegant and gentle melodies, sweet and mellow singing and dialogues easy to be understood by the country folk. Most of the pieces sing songs of heroes and tell legendary stories and fairytales.
Folk Music and Dance
As the capital of several dynasties in the Chinese history, Xi’an has a long tradition of performance of folk music and dance. People watch the performances of dance and singing not only at the gala around the Lantern Festival but also at the monthly country fairs and on such occasions of wedding, funeral, birthday parties and major events that call for celebrations. The music instruments are composed of bells and drums, several kinds of stringed instruments, the sheng (a reed pipe wind instrument), xiao (a vertical bamboo flute), bamboo flutes, and suona horns. All of them are extensively used in folk operas, ballad singing and instrumental ensemble.