The dance may be in large groups of a dozen to a hundred people, or in two or three-person groups. The dancers move from location to location, visiting different parts of the town. The leader of the procession of dancers is called the santou or “Umbrella” who wields an umbrella to lead the movement of the group. He also sings, usually improvised, while the others will repeat his last line. Various characters may appear in the procession, such as the two comic characters Big-Headed Monk and Liu Cui (柳翠), and the Eight Immortals. The procession first follows the santou in a single file to form a large simple circle, and later then forms other more intricate patterns.
The Shandong yangge is thought to be the purest forms of yangge. There are three major types of yangge in the Shandong province, the Haiyang yangge, Jiaozhou yangge, and the guzi (鼓子, drum) yangge. In guzi yangge each dancer takes one of five roles – “Umbrella”, “Drum”, “Stick”, “Flower”, “Clown” – the first three are named after the props the dancer holds, while the fourth refers to a female dancer.
In Liaoning and Beijing, a popular form is the stilt yangge where the dancers perform on stilts. There are many types of stilt yangge, for example “Jietang” is a group dance performed in the street; “Jiaxiang” involves the formation of a pyramid of different poses; “Dachang” is group dance done in a large open air space; and “Xiaochang” characterized by its love-story plot.
The performers of Manchurian Yangge in Northeast China usually wear Manchurian clothes. The movement is free and brisk, imitating the valor of a tribe excelling in horsemanship and marksmanship.
Source: Wikipedia (English)