Special Features of Beijing Opera performance
Beijing opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The 4 roles in Beijing opera are Sheng(生)，Dan（旦），Jing（净），Chou（丑）. The Dan（旦）refers to any female role in Beijing opera. Dan roles were originally divided into five subtypes. Old women were played by laodan(老旦)，martial women were wudan(武旦)，young female warriors were daomadan， virtuous and elite women were qingyi(青衣)， and vivacious and unmarried women were huadan(花旦) . Four examples of famous Dans are Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yangqiu, Shang Xiaoyun and Xun Huisheng. The Sheng(生) is the main male role in Beijing opera. This role has numerous subtypes. The laosheng(老生) is a dignified older role. Young male characters are known as xiaosheng(小生). These characters sing in a high, shrill voice with occasional breaks to represent the voice changing period of adolescence. Xiaosheng actors are often involved with beautiful women by virtue of the handsome and young image they project. The wusheng( 武生)is a martial character for roles involving combat. They are highly trained in acrobatics, and have a natural voice when singing. The Jing（净）is a painted face male role. Depending on the repertoire of the particular troupe, he will play either primary or secondary roles. The Chou（丑）is a male clown role. The Chou usually plays secondary roles in a troupe. Indeed, most studies of Beijing opera classify the Chou as a minor role. Chou has the meaning “ugly”. This reflects the traditional belief that the clown’s combination of ugliness and laughter could drive away evil spirits. Beijing opera performers utilize four main skills. The first two are song and speech. The third is dance-acting. This includes pure dance, pantomime, and all other types of dance. The final skill is combat, which includes both acrobatics and fighting with all manner of weaponry. All of these skills are expected to be performed effortlessly,...
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