Nanjian Tiaocai, namely dish-serving dance, is a traditional dance among the Yi people living in Nanjian County, Dali City, Yunnan Province. It was inscribed into the List of China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritages in 2008.
A representative of the dance inheritors, Abenzhi is a renowned folk artist known as the “Prince of dish-serving dance”. Born to a family of dancers, he saw dish-serving dance for the first time at a local banquet when he was 19. Since then, the “knot was tied”.
In 2015, the dish-serving dance was performed at the Lancaster House in London during the “Creative Collaborations: UK & China” Exhibition. This show choreographed by Abenzhi won warm applause from the audience. That was the debut of this ethnic dance in Europe.
Shortly after that, Nanjian Dish-Serving Dance Troupe staged another feast on the 2016 Chinese New Year Evening Gala. For that performance, all the dancers had rehearsed for over 400 hours.
Bringing the dance out of the mountains and let it known by more people has been Abenzhi’s long-cherished dream. Over the past 38 year, he and his team had danced around Yunnan and in many parts of the world, winning a number of awards and recognitions.
In spite of fortune and fame, Abenzhi still chooses to stay in his hometown passing down the age-old heritage of his people. Now he also works as a folk art tutor of Dali University, teaching dish-serving dance. So far, he has trained more than 10,000 dancers.