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Peacock Princess Yang Liping

http://www.chinese.cn 08:40, January 27, 2010 China.com.cn

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Yang Liping
Yang Liping

Dubbed "Peacock Princess," Yang Liping is known for her peacock dance. The peacock is a Dai totem and appears in may of the group's dances. But Yang's award-winning solo Spirit of Peacock in a national contest in 1986 gave people a totally fresh perspective and earned her overnight fame. She captures the vitality and elegance of the beautiful bird, with her slim fingers and slender figure imitating the peacock's plumes and lithe body.

Yang says she identifies with the dancers in her shows as she shares the same roots. Some 40 years ago, Yang was a village girl growing up in Eryuan county, Dali. As the oldest of four children in a poor family, she learned to help her parents take care of the family at a young age. She would herd sheep in the mornings, and busy herself with needlework and embroidery in the evenings.

Singing and dancing come naturally to the Bai and young Yang was no exception. She enjoyed dancing and often performed at weddings and feasts.

Yang Liping and her peacock dance.
Yang Liping and her peacock dance.

"When I was very young, my grandmother told me that singing and dancing is the way we live and express ourselves. People sing while working and dance around the bonfire to offer sacrifices. Dance is not about a performance, instead, it is life itself," Yang says.

In 1971, Yang, then 13, was the youngest of eight girls recruited by a local troupe in Xishuangbanna. In 1979, she performed in the dance drama Princess of Peacock which earned her a first prize in a provincial contest and also led to her joining the Central Song and Dance Company of Nationalities.

Yang is a unique personality on the nation's dance scene as all her dances draw on her ethnic roots. She has never received academic training; dancing is in her blood.

Very few dancers keep active on stage in their 40s, let alone their 50s. Has Yang ever thought of leaving the stage?

"No, not yet. I dance from my heart. That's not so demanding physically. Pina Bausch kept dancing till her death at 68. I will not leave the stage until I become too old and ugly to look at," she laughs.


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