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Performing Arts

The theater is a mirror of life and history, as well as a Cultural flower for all people to appreciate. Many nations have their own theatrical traditions, but Chinese theater is totally different from those of other nations. Though Chinese theater, Greek tragicomedy and Indian Buddhist drama are known as the three most ancient theatrical traditions in the world, Chinese theater is still youthful. China boasts more than 300 traditional operas, with tens of thousands of items in their repertoires. The artistic charm of Chinese theater attracts millions of Chinese and foreign viewers, and it is brimful of everlasting vitality.

Chinese theater is a bloodline of the Culture and traditions of the Chinese nation, as well as a repository of the Chinese people's ideology and spirit. It has preserved many historical and cultural features of the Chinese nation. Hence it is highly desirable to get the world to understand Chinese theater and get more people interested in it.

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Fantasy Stage World

Nurtured Folk Arts


Shadow Theater

Three Golden Eras

Historical Background
The history of Chinese acrobatics can be traced back to the Neolithic Age. People in ancient times often amused themselves during leisure hours or expressed their joy at the success of hunting expeditions by demonstrating skills acquired through hunting or combat with wild animals.
Characteristics of Chinese Acrobatics
Chinese acrobatjcs ranks amongst the best in the world thanks to its long history, rich repertory and distinctive artistic characteristics. The artistic characteristics can be summarized as follows:
The Works of Famous Contemporary
Chinese acrobatics has scored brilliant achievements in international competition over the years. As a result, it has been eulogized as a mythical art by foreign audiences and China is regarded as a powerhouse in acrobatics. The many previously mentioned achievements have been closely linked with the long tradition of Chinese acrobatics and the unique creativity of Chinese acrobats in past centuries.
Keeping a Distance from Life
As mentioned above, Chinese theater has musical dialogues and dance movements. The songs and dances themselves are based on life; but they are not mere reproductions of life. The make-up, costumes, movements and recitations of the performers are affected or pretentious, so as to intensify and beautify ordinary language, daily movements and insipid feelings, and express them in an artistic way.
Fictitious Expression Method - the Core of the Stage Structure
A complete set of fictitious expression methods to master the problems of time and space is the core of stage structure in Chinese theater.
No Limitation of Time or Space
On the Chinese theater stage, per formers reproduce the activities of everyday life in a highly symbolic way. It is precisely through these highly abstract but meaningful modes of expression that the audience is led to an understanding of what is taking place on the stage.
Stories Expressed Through songs and Dances
During the pre-art era (or era of primitive religion) the buds of various arts of all nations in the world were mixed up with each other; but in the period of artistic creation, arts in Europe were gradually classified.
Kuaishu and Kuaiban
Kuaishu and kuaiban are both story-telling and singing with theatrical rhyming. However, they have slight differences.
Dagu and Gushu
Dop and Gushu are terms that denote the same category of qu under the heading of quyi Dagu or gushu chiefly consists of jinyun dagu,stories told in Beijing dialect with a drum accompaniment; and xihe dagu stories told by a performer who beats a drum at the same time, with seven or ten words to the line; meihua dagu which originated in Beijing and is popular in north China, and in which the performer tells stories while beating a drum, accompanied by two or three persons who play three-stringed instruments, pipa and sihu.
Guangxi WanChang
This form is called wenchang for short. it is prevalent in putonghua speaking areas north of Guilin, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and especially in Guilin, Liuzhou and Lipu. Guangxi wenchang is the representative form of quyi in this region, having reached here early in the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Daoguang.
Beijing Dabon

Northeast ErrenZhuan
This is a form of duet, also known as bengbeng. it originated in the three provinces of northeast China-Liaoning, jilin and Heilongiiang. It is a form of quyi which involves story telling, singing and dancing, between two performers. Bengbaphas a history of 200 years.
Popular Tales and Storytellingi
When talking about quyi performances, the Chinese people usually refer to them as "storytelling and singing." Storytelling has very old historical origins. In the earliest extant written records something akin to storytelling is found in a seetion of the work Bwthies of Eminent Women written by Liu Xiang of the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220).
The Quyi of Ethnic Minority Groups in China
China is a nation of 56 ethnic groups. in this big family which we call China, each ethnic group has its own form of quyi The Tibetans sing and narrate The story of King Gesar and have a type of performance called Zhop, which is mainly singing.
Sichuan Qingyin(Arias Sung Without Makeup or Musical Accompaniment)
In the early days, this form of aria was called changxiaoqu (small tunes). it also had other names according to whether the performer uses a yueqin, a four-stringed plucked instrument with a full-moon-shaped sound box, or a pipa as accompaniment. Since the 1950s, Sichuan qingyin has been formally used as the proper term to designate arias sung in the Sichuan dialect.
Suzhou Pingtan
Suzhou Phan is a general term denoting Suzhou pinghua and tanci namely, story telling and ballad singing in the Suzhou dialect. Flourishing in Suzhou, it also enjoys great popularity inJiangsu and Zhejiang provinces as well as in Shanghai, the biggest metropolis in east China. The art has a long history, and its popularity can be traced to the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty.
XiangSheng (Comic Dialogue)
Xiangsheng is one of the most popular and influential types of quyi. It can be said that nobody in China does not know and like it. it is humorous and highly satirical by nature.
Yuequ, or Guangdong Melodies
yuequ means Guangdong melodies. The music is delicate, sweet, tender and soft. It is an important member of the family of Chinese quyi Sung in the GuangZhou, or Cantonese, dialect, it is popular in Guangdong Province, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hong Kong and Macao.
Conventions, Fundamentals of Acrobatic and Combat Skills and Special Skills
Each of the four means of expression in opera (singing, dialogue, acting and combat has its own conventions.
Strict Adherence to Convention
The artistic language of Chinese opera is not simply a copy of the outward and non- essential phenomena of life, but an expression of the essential and special things. Unrestrained and natural acts, and even feelings which are difficult to express in logical language, are transformed into lively images through concrete actions and objects.
The System of Roles
The roles on the Chinese opera stage fall into four categories: sheng Dan, jing and chou These roles have the natural features of age and sex, as well as social significance (including social position, Occupation and personal characteristics). These roles are artificially exaggerated by makeup, costume and gestures.
Reform and Development of Opera Music
Over the centuries, opera music has had to confront two problems. The first is how to carry forward and develop the traditions of folk opera music, and enrich and improve it. The second is how to reflect new lifestyles and create new images. In the past four decades, opera musicians, actors, actresses and accompanists have achieved great progress in the reform of songs, tunes and accompaniment. Updating traditional operas and creating new ones (using historical or modern plots and themes) is also a constant challenge.
Composition of Opera Music
The development of Chinese opera music went through three stages. In the first generation, the songs were composed of long and short lines. The singer sang solo, and the orchestra only came in at the end of each line.
More Encouraging Progress
Some people said that after Kong Shangren and Hong Sheng, two famous playwrights, passed away, no remarkable achievements were made in the Chinese theater, and only actors and actresses enjoyed glory. It is true that for a long period of time, no outstanding dramas were created.
New Fashion Drama and Liantaiben Drama
In the early years of the 20th century, Chinese theater spared no effort to improve its artistry and win audiences. Of various artistic reform programs, the new fashion drama and liantaiben drama were two important achievements.
New Flowers on an Old Tree
Along with the establishment of the new social system, theatrical circles, including opera troupes, schools and performers, came under the leadership of the government cultural administration departments. Almost all opera actors and actresses could draw wages; they did not need to solicit audiences to make a living.
The Prosperity and Development of New Operast
Along with the transformation of Chinese society, Chinese opera actors and actresses began to modify their performances, costumes and makeup to suit the tastes of the inhabitants of the newly burgeoning cities.
Turning Reality into Drama
The principle of turning reality into drama and displaying modern life by means of traditional operas has been an endeavor of playwrights of this century.
Untiringly Reviewing History
It seems that Chinese playwrights, artists and audiences never tire of historical themes. On the 20th century stage, newly adapted dramas based 0n historical stories occupy a dominant position.
Unique Symbolic Scenery, Backdrops and Properties
In the traditional Chinese theater, time, space and setting are mainly represented by means of the performers' singing and movements. The change of time and place is accomplished by the actors' frequently entering and leaving the stage, and their interaction, including singing, recitation, acting and combat, which work on the imagination of the audience.
The Unique Creation of Opera Characters
Before the emergence of proper theaters, Chinese performers mainly adopted the following two methods of makeup: Masks and facial painting.
The Maturing of Chinese Theater
Chinese theater finally came to maturity during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), after a long period of gestation, with the appearance of the drama TOP Scholar Zhang Xie.
The Actor Meng in Costume
During the Spring and Autumn period (722-481 BC), imperial musicians (known as you) were the Successors of the ancient witches and wizards. These musicians performed songs, dances, comedies, music and acrobatics for the emperors, rather than for the gods. Comedians were called paiyou and musicians were called lingyou.
Ancient Songs and Dances
Many ancient cultural relics and documents record that at festivals and on other happy occasions, our ancestors sang and danced to imitate food gathering, hunting, fishing, farming, war and herding. Songs and dances also had the themes of love between men and women, and the worship of heaven, earth, gods and totems.
Three Famous Song-and-Dance Dramas of the Tang Dynasty
The Chinese nation had experienced many wars and social turbulence before entering the period of the Sui (581 -618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties.
The Horn-Locking Play
In the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) there appeared Baixi (also known as Sanyue, or folk music, a counterpart of Yayue, or elegant music, performed in the imperial palace.) In fact Baixi referred to the combination of folk songs, dances, acrobatics, martial arts and magic.
Acting Like a God or a Ghost - Exorcism
In the beginning, all songs and dances were performed collectively But as time went by, specialists in singing or dancing emerged. Women singers and dancers were called witches, and men singers and dancers, wizards.
Speaking and Singing Arts
Chinese theater is a comprehensive mixture of stage arts, combining poems, songs, music, dances and fine arts into one. This comprehensive art form is not cobbled together haphazardly, but assembled in an orderly way.
Three Famous Song-and-Dance Dramas of the Tang Dynasty
The Chinese nation had experienced many wars and social turbulence before entering the period of the Sui (581 -618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties.
Puppets from Various Places
China has many types of puppets. Puppets from various places have their own unique characteristics. Even when the same types of puppets are used, they differ and feature strong local color in terms of manipulative skill, puppet mechanisms, figure modeling, stage art and vocal performance.
Chinese Puppetry and International Exchanges
Chinese puppetry spread to the outside world during the Tang and Song dynasties and spread even wider in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Soon after the 1911 Revolution, Chinese puppeteers made a performance tour of Singapore, Penang and Luzon. In the 1920s and 1930s, Hebei shoulder-pole puppet plays made their appearances in japan,the Soviet Union and Southeast Asia.
The Methods of Operation and Carving Art of Figures
Ox-hide shadow show is an art combining opera, music, fine art and special craftsmanship. Although it is a folk art prevalent in society withoutsignificant skills, yet its unique execution method and cutting and carving skills have made an important chapter in the history of the Chinese arts.
The Schools of Modern Shadow Theater
In the popuiarization of shadow show through the late Qing period to the eariy stage of the Republic of China, three major and most jnnuential schools have been formed in China.

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