Wuyuan Nuo dance: Living fossil of ancient dance

An artist performs Wuyuan Nuo Dance on an ancient stage in Wuyuan County, Jiangxi province on December 9, 2012.  Photos: Xinhua


The Wuyuan Nuo Dance, also known as the Ghost Dance, is a 'living fossil' of a primitive Chinese dancing. It currently has more than 100 repertoires and over 200 masks. The Wuyuan Nuo Dance tells fairy tales and folk legends with its unique primitive, straightforward, exaggerated, and vivid performance. Wuyuan Nuo Dance was listed in the first national intangible cultural heritage list.


Nuo dance, which originated in primeval times as a means of exorcising the plague and demons and worshiping gods, is the oldest dance form known in the country. The dance used to be performed in most parts of China, by Han people as well as by some ethnic groups in Southeast China.


Nuo dance is vigorous and dignified. The dancers all wear vivid, lifelike, wooden masks with different expressions, some of which are powerful and bold, some ferocious, some amiable and kind, some simple and naive, and some smiling and lovely. The dancing forms are rich and the movements diverse: some of which are agile and brave, some simple and powerful, and some nimble and bright. In these movements, there are a lot of elements of marital arts and opera postures, so it has specific flavors and characters.

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