A lesson on Chinese Opera

舞台掠影

Today, my residence assistant planned a very original activity for us! We had a lecture about the art of Chinese Opera.

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After going to East Nanjing Road Station, in the center of the city, we walked a few minutes to arrive in this little hidden courtyard surrounded by locals’ apartments.

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We then got inside a small townhouse decorated in a trendy way and got to drink some warm creamy Vienna coffee while listening to the lecture.

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The woman who was doing the lecture was a Chinese Opera professor. She explained us that in Chinese Opera, there are only women on stage, who play both boys and girls. She was specialized in boys’ gestures.

Peking-Opera

She asked her student to show us how a man who is getting married to a young lady would feel. All the feelings of excitement and joy were mostly expressed through the rapid motion of her fan, the smile on her face, and her sparkling eyes. It was a really powerful representation.

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The movements in Chinese Opera are really slow and graceful. Dancers have long elegant colorful costumes with very long sleeves they play with. They wear quite a lot of makeup and bear a very sophisticated hairdo and headdress.

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The lady invited us to go on stage to actually try to reproduce some scenes. It was far harder than what I expected. There are a lot of things to watch out for at the same time: the placement of your fingers, the position of your long sleeves, where you look at, body balance, face expression, and many others.

After the lesson, I talked to the organizers. They are actually part of an association which teaches people traditional Chinese art. The students then go to school and perform in front of autistic children. I found the initiative so sweet and smart!

I took their contact information. I hope I will be able to come back soon, take some lessons, and maybe perform in front of the children before I leave Shanghai!

Photo Sources: unusualhistoricals.blogpost.com, Beijing Chinese opera website

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