Dao ethnic people in Suoi Quyen commune, Van Chan district in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai have been exerting all-out efforts to preserve bell dancing which is crucial to their traditional rituals.
To promote the unique dance, local shamans and artisans have been invited to schools to introduce the dance to pupils as part of their extracurricular activities.
The shamans and artisans’ sessions on how to perform the unique dance have helped local students have a better understanding of the community’s cultural values.
“I’m happy that I was taught the cultural values of my community,” said Phung Ton Nhi, a pupil of Suoi Quyen Secondary School in Van Chan district. “I will try my best to preserve them”.
The bell dance is often performed in sacred rituals of the Dao ethnic community in Suoi Quyen commune. The moves are performed with the presence of sacred paintings featuring images of three almighty Gods: Ngoc Thanh (God of Heaven), Thuong Thanh (God of Earth), and Thai Thanh (God of the Underworld).
The bell dance is believed to entertain the Gods before actual rituals are performed.
As a rule of thumb, every male in the ethnic community must know how to perform bell dancing.
When dancing, performers hold a delicate bell in their hand to create a beat, while their feet sway with enticing moves. The performances re-enact the community’s important life events, such as the wedding day and giving birth.
In order to preserve and promote the distinctive cultural value of the Dao people, the communal People’s Committee has conducted various measures to restore and keep the dance alive.
The measures included facilitating local people’s organisation of Cap sac or Coming-of-age ritual where bell dance is always performed.
“I have always tossed and turned over how to pass on the Dao people’s signature dance to the proceeding generations so that they can be our true successors, said artisan Ly Tien Phuc.
According to Dang Kim Ly, Vice Chairman of the Suoi Quyen Communal People’s Committee, the commune would continue introducing the Dao people’s cultural values to schools so the younger generations can hold a greater understanding of their importance and continue preserving them.
With the all-out efforts, the unique cultural values of the Dao people in Suoi Quyen commune are believed to further thrive.