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Cultural tourism brings renowned dancing village a step nearer wealth

By Hou Liqiang and Yang Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-24 07:33

Children smile in Fanpai village, Guizhou province. [Photo by Hou Liqiang/China Daily]

The cooperative has been in existence for three years. It mainly caters for tourists who visit to watch cultural performances or experience rural life. However, the money generated - several thousand yuan - isn't enough to run the guesthouse, so Xunmei can provide help by bringing more tourists to the village, according to Wan, the council director.

History through song

The development of tourism has brought high hopes to the local people, who long to see the younger generation return and preserve and then pass on the traditional culture.

Wan Zhengwen, who has officially been named as an inheritor of two of Fanpai's national cultural heritages, said it has been difficult to pass on the old knowledge and songs that record Miao history, mainly because the ethnic group doesn't have a written language and its history is recorded through song.

"Most of the young people have left the village for work. I visit the primary school to teach the children about our culture, but when they graduate, they will leave the village for further education," he said.

Change may be on the horizon, though. According to Wan Zhengwen, as more tourists have arrived, some of the younger people have expressed an interest in learning from him. "Many people have told me that if they had known tourists were interested in our traditional culture, they would have learned from me," he said.

Yang Guangzhong and his wife performed muguwu across China, and in France and Portugal, for more than a decade. However, in 2013, Yang contracted pleurisy and was forced to give up dancing.

He said the villagers have benefited from the cooperative's work by selling homemade wine, pork and other agricultural produce, and he has high expectations of increased success.

"We used to perform the dance outside the village. Many of the young people still do, but that's just for local dignitaries and bosses. If more tourists visit, the younger villagers will return and we will dance to promote the development of the village," he said.

Between 1995 and 2013, Zhang Xingrong performed muguwu at locations nationwide. Although the 46-year-old privately considers himself too old to perform the dance, he is willing to continue until tourism has developed to a point where it becomes profitable for the young people to return.

"Muguwu has been passed down for generations in the village. If we don't develop tourism, it will either be lost or only performed in other places."

Contact the writer at houliqiang@chinadaily.com.cn


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