I booked for this show, The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance, through the hostel where I was staying – Ancient City Youth Hostel, if you care to know. The staff whisked me off to Tang Palace and back to the hostel aboard their official car. I was the only one scheduled for that night, so it felt like VIP treatment.
Inside the theater, the first two sections from the stage are VIP seating which includes a Chinese dinner. From the mid-section towards the back are ordinary seating which is a step elevated. It doesn’t include dinner but there’s a free bottle of water. Also, a menu is available should you want something to munch or drink.
The Tang Palace Music and Dance is a Non-Material Cultural Heritage in Shaanxi Province. It features the very music and dance performed during the Chinese Tang Dynasty period. Each act is introduced both in Chinese and English by a pair of narrators dressed in royalty garb. The performers are professional artists and the acts are alternating music and dances which are beyond entertaining. It evokes a sense of appreciation for history and valuing of cultural heritage. And the viewers being predominantly foreigners helped a lot (at least for me) in creating this mood, as it was a civilized and well-mannered audience. (No chatterboxes scattered anywhere, if you know what I mean) 🙂 It was a great show, and I would highly recommend including this in your itinerary when visiting Xi’an City.
Programme (edited from the show pamphlet):
1. Huaqing Palace: “Huaqing Palace” concert by Chinese traditional music instruments. Located at the foot of the mountain Lishan, the Huaqing Palace used to be the palace of the Tang emperors. It describes the conviviality in the palace.
2. White Sleeve Dance: This is a kind of folk dance which was very popular at the imperial court in the Tang Dynasty. It originated from the Wu Kingdom (now JiangSu Province) as early as the Jin Dynasty (AD256-316) and became very popular in central China during the Tang Dynasty. In ancient China, ramie was the main material used to make the long sleeves for dancing. The background song is “On The White Ramie” written by Li Bai, a very famous poet in the Tang Dynasty.
3. Panpipe solo “Spring Orioles Songs”: This music was composed for the Tang Emperor Gao Zong. The music displays an early spring scene with willow leaves, peach blossoms and hundreds of singing birds in the bright sun.
4. Spring Outing: This is a famous piece of Tang Dynasty dance music for ritual ceremonies. It depicts a group of young girls returning from a spring outing, dancing and singing, wishing for a happy future.
5. Masked Warriors: This is a sorcerer’s dance meant to expel epidemics and ghosts and to solicit well-being. During the Tang period, this masked dance was performed in the courts and among the noble people every New Year’s Eve.
6. Watching Bird and Catching Cicada: This is a great treasure of Tang mural painting and it reflects the life of a maid in the Tang imperial palace. It features three ladies: the one on the left is watching a bird, the one in the middle is watching a cicada, and the one on the right is is missing her relatives.
7. Trumpet solo “Harvesting Chinese Dates”: This trumpet solo shows the happy and touching scene where people, both young and old, celebrate the bumper harvest of dates.
8. Fairy Dance in Feathered Costume: This is one of the most popular music dances in the Tang Dynasty. It was said that Emperor XuanZong was very good at music and poetry. One day, he had a dream touring the fairyland in the palaces on the moon. He saw many fairy ladies in rosy cloud-like costumes dancing and singing in the sky. When he woke up, he composed a piece of music based on his dream and asked YangYuHuan, his favorite concubine, to arrange and rehearse the beautiful dance and light music.
9. Percussion show “Gossiping Ducks” and “Hungry Tiger”: This is very popular around Xi’an and the yellow plateau. Through drums, cymbals and gong, the music shows how ducks play, gossiping and quarreling at the waterside; and how a hungry tiger comes down from the mountain, grinding its teeth in search of prey.
10. The Great Tang Rites and Music: The splendid collective dance is a colorful performance that reveals the unprecedented grandeur and glory of the Tang Dynasty and the essence of oriental dance and music culture.
Here’s a clip from the show: