The title of this week’s Website Wednesday was a bit of a challenge! Basically I wanted post a few of the videos that we’ve used to try to learn more about classical Chinese music, dance, and opera.
What is Peking Opera? by ChinaMatters.
This short animated video gives an overview of Peking Opera. While we were going to see a different kind of performance, this background knowledge was still helpful.
This video gives a lot of the same information, but has real-life examples with people instead of animations. The accompanying article has more details.
The Ehru by Xiaochun Qi. (Shen Yun)
This is an introduction to the ehru, an instrument with two strings. She talks about how it is made and used, and plays some examples. Fascinating.
The Pipa by Miao-tzu Chiu. (Shen Yun)
The pipa is a four-stringed instrument that is strummed or plucked with finger picks. Once again, the musician talks about how it is made, tells a little history, and plays some examples. Both of these are in Chinese with English subtitles.
Sacred Instruments (uncredited speaker, Shen Yun)
There are a whole series of percussion instrument videos (including the Chinese drum) and we watched several, but this one showcases a few instruments that have religious origins.
What is Classical Chinese Dance? (Shen Yun)
Husband and the kids felt this one was too long. However there were two interesting parts that those of us attending the performance watched for. First was the importance of the circle in Chinese classical dance. Second, the dancers go through a very intense and long training process to learn all the various movements. However once on stage, they actually have quite a bit of leeway in how they choose to interpret their character and perform those movements. I was surprised by that since it is so different to ballet.