A Brief Introduction to the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe Collections and Performances


  As the name implies, the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe is a Taiwanese performance ensemble specializing in the island’s indigenous songs and dances. In the six years from 1991 to 1996, Institute of Ethnology Research Fellow Hu Tai-li served as the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe’s educational and performance advisor. During the field studies she led, troupe members learned about aboriginal song and dance rituals and traditions from a variety of areas then transformed them into modern dance performances. The “Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe Collections and Performances” digital archive project (including 44 video tapes, 313 photographs) documents Hu Tai-li’s guidance of the troupe and the creative process involved in creating new performances over those six years.

  The recordings are centered on the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe’s three study and performance projects among three indigenous tribes:

1. “Memorable New Year Ceremony” of The Puyuma Tribe

  In 1991 and 1992, the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe travelled to the Puyuma village of Nanwang to observe the New Year Ceremony and Women’s Weed Pulling Festival and learn traditional songs and dances. At the same time, they practiced songs by renowned Puyuma tribe folk composer Baliwakes. In mid-1992 the troupe launched their “Memorable New Year Ceremony” performance at the Taipei Cultural Center.

2. “Exhortations of the Legendary Little People” of The Saisiat Tribe

  In October and November of 1992, the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe visited Saisiat tribesmen residing in Wufeng Township to participate in the preparations for and the formal Pasta’ay Ceremony for legendary little people. They learned the sacred Pasta’ay songs from Baunai Kale, who is responsible for passing Pasta’ay songs and rituals on to the next generation. In 1993, the troupe visited the area to learn about the plants mentioned in the Pasta’ay songs and to get permission to perform Pasta’ay songs and dances on stage. In the following year, the troupe performed “Exhortations of the Legendary Little People” at the National Theatre.

3. “Songs of VuVu (ancestors) ”of The Paiwan Tribe

  In 1995, the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe visited the Paiwan Kulalao Village to learn the songs and dances from the tribes’ Five-Year Maleveq Ceremony, nursery rhymes, and other traditional songs. In addition, the troupe was also responsible for teaching the nursery rhymes to the children of Kulalao Elementary School. In 1996, the troupe and students from Kulalao Elementary performed together “Songs of VuVu (ancestors) ” at the Laochuan Mountain Theatre in Taipei.