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Showcasing traditional arts

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-06 09:11

The two troupes are also performing their latest works at the festival.

The Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company was on the verge of dying in 2001, but had a dramatic reversal of fortune thanks to Song Yan, now 53, a Peking Opera actor, who is also the director of the company.

When Song became the director, he led the actors to give nearly 800 performances in 15 months, which helped it survive.

Today, 16 years later, the company is one of the best-known Peking Opera companies in the country, doing about 600 shows a year.

The company premiered its work, Ke Si Jian Yi, at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center on Nov 1 and 2, which is about the people who rented costumes to Peking Opera troupes in the 1930s.

The show is the second of a trilogy by Song, in which he combines theater with Peking Opera. The first show, titled Wang Zi, premiered in October 2015. It tells the story of a father and his adopted son in Beijing in the 1930s.

Speaking about the challenges traditional art forms are facing, Song, who joined the troupe when he was 12, says: "Though they are different, there is one thing in common. People who learn these arts have to be patient and focused. You have to isolate yourself from the outside world, which is full of commercial benefits and a variety of entertainments. It takes years and even decades to master these techniques. That's why these arts are timeless and can still be appreciated by audiences centuries later."

The Beijing Acrobatic Troupe will present a show, which won a gold medal at the Paris' Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (The World Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow) in 1995.

Beijing Tianqiao Zenith Investment Group Co Ltd, which manages the three troupes, says they did more than 1,400 shows in 2016, which attracted more than 400,000 people.

And in another bit of good news, the government of Xicheng district has received approval for a project to build a heritage center in the Tianqiao area, once a haven for folk arts and small businesses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to promote shadow puppetry and acrobatics.

Xu Li, the deputy head of Xicheng district, says: "These troupes are national treasures, and they have performed in other countries in cultural exchange programs, introducing Chinese culture to international audiences."

If you go

The Traditional Culture & Arts Week is running through Nov 17, featuring performances and exhibitions at Tianqiao Performing Arts Center. 9 Tianqiao Nandajie, Xicheng district, Beijing. 400-635-3355.

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