Province displays rich history of performing arts
Two artists perform Errentai Opera in the county of Hequ. [Photo by Wang Pei for China Daily]
Shanxi province is known throughout the country for its rich variety of folk arts.
An example of such cultural wealth is that all six candidate townships and counties were included on the 2021-23 list of "China's famous towns of folk arts "released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in early November.
On the list were Zuoquan county for its folk songs; Yingxian county for Shuahaier Opera; Hequ county for Errentai Opera; Nanzhang township in Zhangzi county for Bayinhui concerts; Dayang township in Zezhou county for its centuries-old folklore; and Jiangzhou township in Xinjiang county for drumming performances.
Shuahaier in Yingxian, which inherits the ancient performing and singing arts of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), is called the "living fossil of ancient Chinese opera" by insiders.
Errentai, which means "the stage for two performers", is among the oldest local operas in Shanxi and the neighboring Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Bayinhui, which means "concert of eight instruments", is said to be a musical performance originating from the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The drumming of Jiangzhou is popular among Chinese audiences, being staged throughout the country frequently. It is also a seven-time winner of the Galaxy Award, the nation's highest award for folk art performance.
Yang Dinghong, head of the Jiangzhou Drumming Troupe, said the art is popular because of the wide participation of local people.
"Drumming performances are held on many occasions in Jiangzhou," Yang said. "It is an indispensable part of festivals, celebrations and weddings."
Over the past few years, the Jiangzhou Drumming Troupe has performed in many countries including Denmark, Morocco, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Canada, giving those nations an understanding of Shanxi through this traditional art, according to Yang.
The county of Zuoquan is known for its folk songs. Local farmers have developed a tradition of singing folk songs and holding folk song contests for hundreds of years.
Tourists are always amazed by the fact "a tour of Zuoquan is usually accompanied by folk songs", with many saying that "folk songs can make a trip both impressive and relaxing".
Realizing that the folk songs are a unique resource for cultural tourism, Zuoquan's tourism authorities launched the Zuoquan Folk Song Gala in 2019. The gala has since grown into an annual event, attracting folk song singers from across the country and involving the participation of locals and tourists alike.
Li Shu contributed to this story.