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Tayaoniang - A Song-and-Dance Drama

Updated: 2014-12-30 09:47:44

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Otherwise known as Tanrongniang, Tayaoniang is a folk song-and-dance drama originated in the Northern and Southern Dynasties and popular in the Tang Dynasty.

The drama is drafted from a story in the Northern Qi Dynasty. In the story, there lived a man surnamed Su in the Northern Qi Dynasty. He was an alcoholic and would cruelly beat his wife whenever he got drunk. Being beaten, his wife would pour out her grievances in tears to neighbors. Later, a short satirical song-and-dance drama based on the story was created. In the drama, a man dressed like a woman sang songs while swaying his body and the audiences would join in the chorus, lamenting the woman's misfortune. Afterwards, the actor playing her husband came on the stage and acted out the beating scene. This part of performance was rather amusing and would make the audiences laugh. The drama later had some changes. The role of the wife was played by a woman and the focus of the drama was on singing and dancing. At the same time, the drama was renamed Tanrongniang.

The poem on Tanrongniang by Chang Feiyue of the Tang Dynasty described the staging of the drama. In the poem, there were movements of raising hands and tidying up, somersaulting and dancing, expressive narration and the audiences' chorus in unison. That was a very touching scene, attracting throngs of people. The drama Tayaoniang was also featured in banquet performances in the imperial court. It is thus clear that it was a song-and-dance drama appealing to all.

Featuring two roles of different temperaments, the drama involves conflicts, plots, songs and dances, serving as a precursor to the operatic art of later ages.

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