Stilt Dance, Dali, Yunnan
The stilt dance is a traditional folk dance that has been performed in China since the Spring and Autumn Period (771 ‐ 476BC). Most believe it originated from a type of totem worship in fishing communities. The crane was seen as a symbol for longevity and immortality because of its long legs. The dancers tried to imitate the cranes that could be found among their villages by attaching stilts to their feet. The other origin folk tale for stilt dances is more colloquial.
There was a man who was extremely short. Everywhere he went he was made fun of for his height, but one day he walked into the town on stilts and he was cheered as opposed to being teased.
From these origins the stilt dance has evolved into an event that can be seen at many festivals in China. There are many different techniques used when stilt walking and the more complex the steps the more admired the stilt walker. One of the highlights of lion or dragon stilt dances is when the animal bends down to eat different vegetable offerings of pick up a monetary offering. C.P. FitzGerald saw a lion stilt dance performed here in Dali, Yunnan in a family courtyard.