The Farmers’ Dance of China’s Korean ethnic group (generally called “Nongle”, whichmeans pleasant farming) is popular in the concentrated residence areas of the Korean ethnic group in the northeast of China, including provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. “Nongle” combines music, dancing and singing together, developing from the celebration “Land Lord Trampling” in harvest time in ancient time. On September 30th 2009, it was listed into the record of the intangible cultural heritages on the 4th session of UNESCO held in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates.
People of China’s Korean ethnic group have always been good at singing and dancing. They dance on festivals, family gatherings and celebrations. They live at the foot of Changbai Mountain, living on paddy planting. Cooperation and team work are important in their lives. They always take flat drums and suona horn with them when they go farming. When they have a rest, people would play music and dance off the cuff to get rid of tire.
Developed from farming, Farmers’ dance of China’s Korean ethnic group has two major forms——pantomime performance on stage and folk dancing during festivals and harvest seasons. Every village has its own dancing team participating in the celebrations, led by a commend flag and a farming flag. The commander in chief would play the gong, followed by the band and the dancing team, including the dancers who would perform crane dance, elephant-hat dance, mask dance and dances with small drums, long drums and fan drums. There are totally twelve parts in Nongle.
Firstly, male dancers with small drums show up, which is the open session of the Nongle Dance, followed by dancing children performing alignment changing and pyramid in the song “Yanfengtai”. As the show goes, the artistic characterization will become visible. Then the flat drum dance comes which both male and female dancers can perform. The size of the flat drum which they play depends on their gender. Male dancers will dance in group. They run and jump in the pleasant music to show their strength and power while the female dancers perform independent dancing to show the diversified and consummate skill of playing the drum and their beautiful figures.
These two kinds of flat drum dance always gain praise and applause from audience. Although the long drum dance has already been known by people, lots of people think that it is only a female dance. Actually, both men and women could participate in this dance. Long drum is a unique musical instrument of China’s Korean ethnic group, which sounds beautiful and special during playing. Dancers take a thin drum hitter made in bamboo in their right hands and hit the other side of the drum with their left hands. The sound is clear, distinct and harmonious. In the music, female dancers wearing long dresses, with long drums hanging in front of them come onto the stage. Their graceful figures and soft gestures are just like the willows and the cranes, which could bring you into inebriation. After a section of slow music, an unconstrained section will be lighted up. The dancers who have devoted into the dancing will start their stunts, which will bring the performance to the high tide. Then comes the flower fan dance, which was developed from witchery dance in ancient time. Crane dance will be the next. Dancers dressing like red-crowned cranes come onto the stage to bring people blessing, wellness and peace.
"Elephant-hat Dance" is the grand finale of the Nongle Dance, which is the most exciting part. Male youth would swing the two ribbons on their hats while standing, walking and circumvolving. The colorful ribbons on their hats would be swing into horizontal, vertical and acclivitous circles. Some professional actors could even dance with ribbons about 20 meters long. During the show, countless colorful ribbons will fill your visual field, like rainbow, which could bring you beautiful imaginations. During this dance time, the dancers with different kinds of drums will come to the stage again. After the whole show of Nongle, people will dance freely for celebration.
According to the professors, the Farmers' dance of China’s Korean ethnic group is the first intangible cultural heritage in Jilin province, which is also the only dancing item in China which is listed in the record of the World Intangible Cultural Heritages. Actually, the Farmers’ dance of China’s Korean ethnic group has been popular for several years since it has been performed on the Spring Festival Soiree for lots of times.