At the Crossroads has been performed in many countries. Three
martial heroes meet in an inn. They quarrel, and attempt to secretly kill
each other in the dark. The skillful acrobatics called for in this opera
are both thrilling and humorous. Combat routines in the Peking Opera
repertoire such as this one combines Chinese martial arts and the dramatic art
and the actors and actresses must undergo strict physical and skill training
from childhood before they can live up to such routines. Outstanding among
them was the late Mr. Gai Jiao Tien, who performed these militant acts still
with ease even at the age of 70.
Mei Lanfang, who always played female roles, introduced Peking Opera to
Japan, the United States and the USSR as early as the 1920s and 1930s.
The Peking Opera Institute, founded in 1950, has trained a lot of excellent
Peking Opera actors and actresses who have inherited the artistic achievements
of previous generations and developed new characteristics of their own. At
the same time, the other local operas have made reforms continuously, on the
basis of keeping their basic traditions.
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A large number of traditional-type spoken dramas were produced. For
instance, such new costume dramas as Song of the Great Wind, Tang
Emperor Li Shimin, Wang Zhaojun, and Song-tsen Gampo were filled
with the vehement spirit of the time. Also, many rearranged or
transplanted ancient, modern and foreign spoken dramas were staged. After
the Chinese Dramatists' Association set up the Cau Yu Chinese Dramatic
Literature Prize, such excellent spoken dramas as Mayor Chen Yi, Warm
Currents Outside the Room, Duet Romance, Weddings and Funerals, Tang Poet Li Bai,
and A Crouching Tiger on Mount Zhong won the prize successively.
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The past 90 years or so have seen such excellent movies as Angels of the
Street, Spring in a Small Town and Yellow Earth, and eminent movie
artists such as Ruan Lingyu, Xie Jin and Zhang Yimou.
In the 20 years since introduction of China's reform and opening to the
outside world Chinese film workers have kept forging ahead and a galaxy of
talented movie artists have come to the fore. Artistic productivity and
creation have been unprecendentedly vigorous. The period from the
mid-1980s to the early part of the 1990s is usually called the second climax of
the development of Chinese movies. During this period, with the
ideological emancipation of the Chinese people, Chinese movies started to reach
a stage of unprecendentedly democratic and active artistic creation. A
number of excellent movies, such as The Founding of New China, Zhou Enlai,
and Qiu Ju Goes to Court were shot.
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In the 1990s, China entered an age of particularly active economic
growth. Movies advocating patriotism, collectivism and the striving for a
happy life through honest labor have become the mainstream of creation.
The outstanding examples of these were The Great Turning Point, The Opium
War, and Red River Valley.
Another conspicuous phenomenon is the creation of movies with the themes of
"good people and good deeds," as well as ethics. For example, In
the Days Since I Left Lei Feng, which hailed the spirit of Lei Feng, a
soldier who was always ready to help others and is well known to the Chinese
people, was very popular. The creation mode of mainstream Chinese films
has been gradually improved, and now meets the demands of the market.
Another feature of Chinese movies in the 1990s is the introduction of
first-class foreign movies to China, which have stimulated the interest of
Chinese audiences, brought more profits to cinemas, and stimulated film workers'
ideas and creativity, thus pushing forward the reform of the systems of
creation, distribution and showing of Chinese films. The preliminary
establishment of the independent producer system in the 1980s changed the
situation in which state investment was the main form of funding for
movies. The investment in movies is tending to become more rationalized,
and financing channels and the themes of movies are becoming more diversified.
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As early as in the Spring and Autumn period, the art of acrobatics made its
debut in China. The first type of acrobatics developed was strength
acrobatics, with warriors whirling heavy wheels with their hands. In the
Han Dynasty, acrobatic shows became important amusements frequently enjoyed at
palace banquets as well as celebrations of the common people.
Ancient acrobatics was handed down from generation to generation.
Performances include such well-known ones as "Jumping Through Hoops."
"Diabolos," "Tightrope Walking," "Juggling with the
Feet," "Juggling with the Flower Jar," "Plate
Spinning," and "A Pagoda of Bowls." After the founding of
the PRC in 19499, acrobatics developed rapidly, with the encouragement of the
Now, there are nearly 100 acrobatic troupes above the
county level, and thousands of non-governmental acrobatic troupes. A large
contingent of professional and part-time acrobats has come into being.
China has sent hundreds of acrobatic troupes abroad to perform in over 100
countries and regions.
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From 1981 to 1997, China won gold prizes on 35
occasions, such as the "Prize of the President of the Republic of
France," and the top prize at the "Tomorrow and the Future"
International Acrobatic Festival held in France. So far, China has won 85
gold prizes at international acrobatic contests. The superb skills of
Chinese acrobats have been praised by people all over the world and China has
been recognized as the leading country in the acrobatics field.
There are many places where acrobatics is a local specialty, such as
Liaocheng in Shandong Province, Yancheng in Jiangsu Province, Puyang in Henan
Province, Tianmen in Hubei Province, Guangde in Anhui Province and Wuqing near
Tianjin. In particular, Wuqiao in Hebei Province has gained a shining
reputation both at home and abroad. Since1987, the China Wuqiao
International Acrobatics Festival has been held once every two years.
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