Traditional Shaxi music and dance is still well preserved and practiced in Shaxi, though visitors typically can only see performances during Bai ethnic holidays. For guests at Old Theatre Inn, we offer both Shaxi music and traditional dance performances for groups of guests on a regular basis. Our five female staff at Old Theatre, like most local village women, regularly practice and perform Bai dance.
Another great opportunity for traditional Bai music enthusiasts is the Shaxi Singing Festival, held at the end of August each year at Shibaoshan. Song and dance troupes from all around the Dali and Lijiang region come to perform for three days to huge local crowds. There are few tourists here and a lot of lively cultural traditions on display.
The Bai ethnic dances include the Rattle Stick dance and Fan Dance. The Bawangbian Dance (霸王鞭) or Rattle Stick Dance is one of the most popular forms of Shaxi bai dance. It is the most representative and most widely spread dance form of the Dali Bai ethnic group. It is preformed not only in some traditional folk activities such as Rao San Ling 绕三菱, or “Celebrating the First Lunar Month”, but also on other occasions such as house-buildings, weddings, temple fairs and holiday festivals.
A rattle stick is made from a meter-long hollow bamboo stick drilled with four or five small holes filled with several copper coins. When dancing, the women use the sticks to tap gently at the ground, knees and shoulders to make the rattle sound. The dance steps and movements are harmonized into postures to match the rattling.