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The Beijing 'Zouhui', traditional Chinese folk dances, dates approximately from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and prevailed throughout the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The vogue has close relationship with the traditional professions in Beijing.

The form of the main performance embraces 'Way Guiding', the Yangge (a popular rural folk dance), 'tiger-beating sticks', a boat dance, streamer waving, dolly dance, stilt walking, the Lion Dance, Taiping (peace) drum dance and so on.

The people who participate in Zouhui include the actor, whose role is to be specifically in charge of performing each kind of technique, the administrator, a handler and an intendant. They each perform their own functions in the activity ensuring all the preparatory work for Zouhui is put into effect.

Way Guiding – This is an important function and is performed by someone who leads the whole procession along a prescribed route. The guide dances with cymbals that have small bells hanging from them that ring as the dance progresses.

Yangge – The yangge is the most popular dance form in Zouhui. Each Zouhui has a program of yangge. The performers each sing a section of the yangge ditty and then finally they sing in chorus, accompanied by a small hip drum and gong.

Tiger-beating Stick – Actors who have their faces painted, wear theatrical costumes and carry a three-section cudgel, (a weapon that is familiar to those who have some knowledge of martial arts). Mock fight routines are performed in pairs and in groups with percussion accompaniment. Each section of the marshal arts repertoire is carefully choreographed and kept fairly simple.

The Boat Dance – In Chinese, it is called a 'Hanchuan'. This is a boat hull formed with bamboo canes and covered with cloth and is worn around the waist of a performer. A Dan (an actress) will sing and dance along the route 'sailing' her boat and she will be accompanied by a clown 'sculling' a similar boat. It is the tradition in China for a clown to have a white bar painted across the bridge of his nose and often he will also have a false beard.

Beijing's boat dance was originated by the laborers' who repaired the canal long ago. Nowadays this activity is undertaken by more than 10 actors whose faces are ornately painted as they play the parts of a new bride, a sedan-chair bearer, a woman matchmaker, a silly slave girl, an ugly father-in-law and many other comic characters. Their performance is exquisite and expressive with vivid, rich expressions.

Zhongfan - Called 'Zhongfan' in Chinese, the streamers are made of colored silk, with two Chinese characters 'Zhong' and 'Fan' or some other designs embroidered upon them. Each end of the streamer has a rod passing through it and these are attached to bamboo poles, some 10 meters (33 feet) long. At the top of the pole there are several large bells; while at the center of the pole there is an umbrella shape below the streamer. The streamer 'Fan' is composed of the above-mentioned parts. Streamer playing takes many forms such as lifting and falling respectively for three times in succession, and other moves with names such as brain arrow, tooth arrow, elbow arrow and so on, accompanied by percussion instruments during the performance.

Dolly dance – called 'Xiaoche Hui'  in Chinese. For this a cart or barrow is constructed in a similar way as the boats we have already described and with painted 'wheels' upon either side, it is affixed to a beautiful actress. She has the appearance of being seated in the cart as a pair of artificial crossed legs is mounted in front of her. The cart has an awning and two handles projecting from its rear so that it can appear to be guided by another performer while a third person 'pulls' it from the front. The repertoire is similar to that of the boat dance, but the words and melody of their singing is more lively and interesting.

Stilt – In Chinese stilt is called 'Gaoqiao', this is a traditional form of dancing involving the use of stilts. These stilts are of different heights; the taller is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) while the shorter one is 1 meter (3 feet) or so. The roles of the stilt performers are mostly the same as the Yangge except for some minor differences.

Lion Dance – It is also called 'Playing with Lion'. The lions are divided into two kinds (the big lion and the small lion); the big lion is performed by two people and the small lion is played by only one person. There should be two big lions (the left one is yellow while the right one is blue, according to the rules); the number of small lions is optional, but it must be an even number.

The lion dance performance is complex but it is more spectacular than the other activities, which is why it is so popular and enjoyed by many people. After 1949, the lion dance actors tended to be more specialized and the lion dance also became one of the traditional acts to remain on stage.

Taiping Drum Dance – It is also called 'Niangu (Year Drum)'. The single-sided drum with a handle is like a palm-leaf pan in shape. The drum skin is made of sheep skin and it is beaten with a rattan stick. Carried by means of a shoulder strap and controlled by an iron hoop held in the left hand, it is possible for the drummer to dance along while beating out a rhythm. The drummers are agile and dexterous creating a thrilling spectacle as they employ a great variety of means for producing vibrant sound from the instruments. Each drum is colorful, decorated with patterns of flowers and the like, while the drummers wear bright suits and matching head scarves.

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