Cigarette Case Dance of Yi Ethnic Group
Cigarette case dance of Yi ethnic group in Shiping, also known as "tiaoxian" or "longzong", is a kind of folk dance loved by the people of Nisupo tribe of Yi ethnic group. It goes around Gejiu, Shiping, Jianshui, Mengzi, Kaiyuan, Tonghai, Yuanjiang and other places in the south of Yunnan where the Yi people live in a compact community, and it realized maturity in the Yuan and Ming Dynasty and reached its zenith in the Qing Dynasty and in the period of Republic of China. It is named like this because every dancer holds a bamboo or kapok cigarette case in each hand.
Yi people's cigarette dance consists of two parts, namely, "zhengxian" and "zaxian", and it has two styles (mountainous style and dike style) and many different schools. There are more than 220 dance routines, among which only 117 routines are already arranged. In the 117 routines mentioned above, there are 62 routines of "zhengxian" and 55 routines of "zaxian". There are duet dance, three-person dance and group dance and so on. Accompanied by the tetrachord, the dancers hold the round wooden cigarette cases which were used to contain cigarettes in old times, and they beat the bottoms of the cases while dancing. The rhythm of this dance is swift and lively and the atmosphere is ardent.
Zhengxian is the "muxian"(mother string) and zaxian is the "zixian"(subsidiary string or son string), and it is only after the zhengxian is performed that zaxian could be performed. Zhengxian is a kind of dance which is accompanied by instruments with no singing, and the number of its participants is not fixed, which ranges from 2 to nearly 20 dancers. Most zaxian dances feature singing and dancing and they are rich in content and has many different routines, among which over 80 ones have been collected. Among the 80 routines, there are two kinds: one is to amuse the dancers themselves, another one is to perform in public to let others watch.
The self-entertaining zaxian is a kind of mass dance and its participants are not limited. The dancers encircle a ring to dance, and basing on the basic movements such as "huangtiaobu"(shake jumping foot) and "gaiyebu"(put down careful foot), they make movements of certain meaning and simulate the working movements, and all the movements can be adjusted according to the words of singing. The zaxian of performance is also called "xinzaxian"(new zaxian), and it is usually performed by two people after the self-entertaining dance is finished. Every routine has a simple plot. "Sanbuxian" must be jumped first, and then the performance is made according to the plot. In xinzaxian (new zaxian), there are many graceful gestures and movements which are very complex, and there are even some extremely difficult skills such as "xiabanyao"(a movement of bending one's waist) and "dieluohan"(a form of exhibition in which the tumblers form a human tree or pyramid).
The array of cigarette case dance also has its own characteristics. Besides the usual ring-shape dance, different kinds of change and combination of flowery shapes are adopted. It can be that 6 dancers pass through the array to make the array changed and colorful, and can also be 4 dancers, 3 dancers or 2 dancers to do this action. The changes of the dances and arrays are very harmonious and wonderful, constituting an important part of the distinctive characteristic of cigarette case dance.