Yi Ethnic Dance

One of China’s oldest ethnic groups, the Yi people have a history of some 3,000 years. Today, they live primarily in China’s southern provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Guangxi. Their affinity for song and dance is legendary.

As suggested by colorful dance movements, the Yi seize occasion to “dance out” their feelings in everyday life.  Choreographed performance pieces depicting their style are often set in the lush hills of Yunnan, and are known for vibrant rhythms and energy. Combinations of threes and sixes characterize Yi ethnic dance. Some basic movements include “Three Steps and a Pause,” “Three Flips Three Spins,” “Six Stepping Flips to Form a Flower,” and “Half Tumble Half Turn.”

Many movements are taken from daily life. The “Beating Buckwheat Step” was inspired by the annual harvest. It is characterized by taking three steps forward and one step back while moving in circles. While the feet are busy stepping, the upper body sways gently left and right, creating a distinctively Yi rhythm.

Miao or Hmong Dance
Yi Ethnic Costumes
The Scenery of Southwest China
Meet: Chelsea Cai