Birth of a new form: large-cast sequenced narrative dance
The idea of building a legend of maidenly sacrifice into a dance-narrative pretty clearly takes its cue from Stravinsky/Diaghilev’s Sacre du printemps, 1913, though the post-sacrificial rebirth and parade of chidren (as newbirthed peacocks) changes the mood completely.
But since the is the narrative climax, it would be best to start with it, then work our way backwards to see what feeds into it. Which is he own fondness for masked dance and the totemic buffalo skulls (quite real) of the Wa (Va) language group on the Yunna-Burma border, known to have been headhunters before (possibly even after) 1949. Trademarks in turn of a sacrificial shamanism indigenous to a part of the Yunnan hill country we have not yet seen…save perhaps in the opening sequence to Hong Hegu (below).
Sacrificial Immolation, Act 4 of Yunnan Yingxiang 2002