Tibet: new path to prosperity with ancient dance

64-year-old Tashi never thought that the Jiaxie dance he has been practicing for decades now would be a way to help local people escape out of poverty. 

Jiaxie is a style of group performance of song and dance that has been passed down through generations in Tingkar Township, Saga County, southwest China's Tibet, which is also Tashi's hometown. In 2008, it was listed as a national-level intangible cultural heritage of China.

Tashi is a sixth-generation inheritor of the dance, and he plays the lead role in performances. He said that this art form is over 1,300 years old and is not easy to be passed down till today, so he is constantly thinking about how to better pass it down.

Since 2012, the Saga County government focused on inheriting and developing folk arts like the Jiaxie dance, the King Gesar epic storytelling and singing art, and original pastoral songs.

And they have launched a series of artistic masterpieces from the Saga region, developing farmers and nomads into "cultural performers" and achieving both cultural prosperity and poverty alleviation in the area.

In recent years, there have been more and more opportunities for the Jiaxie dance troupe to perform. They have participated in large-scale performances such as the Mountain Qomolangma Cultural Festival and Tibetan New Year Gala, and they have also performed on CCTV, China's national TV station, and in Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China.

There are currently more than 600 farmers and nomads who perform the dance, and a performer can earn more than 3,000 yuan (474 US dollars) per year just from performing.

"Helping the poverty-stricken people with culture industry not only contributes to pass down the dance, it is also a source of income for local people," said Tashi.