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Yi folk songs and dances have inheritors

11-24-2011 11:51 BJT

Recent years have seen the central and local governments step up efforts to protect and preserve the diverse ethnic cultures of China. Two renowned folk singers from Southwest China's Yunnan province, Li Huaixiu and her brother Li Huaifu, have made great efforts to preserve the indigenous songs and dances of their Yi ethnic group.

Li Huaixiu and her brother come from a Yi family of Shiping county.

They never imagined that they would one day win the national western folk song competition and perform in the theaters around the world.

And they even performed during The Spring Festival Gala - a road to fame for almost all Chinese singers.

Their routine includes the Yi Sea Grass Melody, Snuff Case Dance and traditional love songs.

Ever since childhood they have been trained in the local folk song tradition institute...

Li Huaixiu said: "The institute has outstanding folk artists from different areas. I came to realize that in a few decades, these artists will pass away - and their songs and dances will fail to be passed on if we don’t study hard. We are descendants of the Yi people and are responsible for passing down our culture."

The Sea Grass Melody is a traditional form of entertainment and emotional expression.

And it has been granted the status of "national intangible cultural heritage."

According to Li Huaifu, when he began to study, only the elderly in their village could sing the Melody well and perform the Snuff Case Dance.

But the situation has changed since they won the national golden award in 2004.

Li Huaifu said: "I always hung out with old artists of the village to study their melody and dance. My friends used to laugh at me and they thought learning these songs and dances was unfashionable. In recent years, young people’s thoughts have started to change and many of them like to sing folk songs - they think that’s cool."

Reporter: "This is Shiping county of Yunnan province where Li Huaixiu and Li Huaifu were born. The Yi ethnic group makes up more than 58% of the local population, and the county is known throughout the country for its long history and Yi traditional dances and songs."

Shiping county is a part of the traditional homelands of the Honghe Hani and Yi peoples. There you can see many ancient houses, an academy of classical learning and other historical sites - some over a thousand years old. The local government has worked for years to protect the Yi ethnic culture especially after the sister and brother became famous.This year, the pair will return to perform at the county’s traditional dance and song festival.

Li Huaixiu said: "In our county, middle school students and pupils begin to learn the Snuff Case Dance after recess. Every week, either we or our folk music teachers come back to teach them two hours of Sea Grass Melody and its history."

The protection of folk culture in Shiping is a good example in Yunnan province, which has 26 ethnic groups - the greatest variety in China.

Their diverse cultures, customs and history are the source of their distinctive music.

The dedication of these artists will help ensure that these traditions live on.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: CNTV.CN

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