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Heritage on the verge of extinction (2)

By Xu Junqian (China Daily)

14:37, August 15, 2012

"Young people are more interested in going to gyms," says Wu, who runs an orthopedic clinic to support his family.

Even Wu's 21-year-old son shows little interest in the tradition that Wu believes could "prevent most of the chronic diseases and promote longevity".

He says he also uses his Southern Boxing remedies to cure his patients at his clinic, which was started by his grandfather.

Yongjia Kunqu Opera is in an even more dire state.

"We have no place for rehearsals, no money to recruit students, and what's even sadder is, we've no stage to perform," says Lin Meimei, a 70-year-old performer.

Lin recalls that during the heyday in the 1940s, everyone - from the central government officials to the general public - was drawn to the graceful opera.

"It's hard to persuade parents to have their only kid quit school and spend the best years of their lives learning the opera, and ending up jobless," says Lin, who began learning opera at the age of 12.

The Yongjia Kunqu Opera Troupe has some 20 young performers, which is only half the strength of a regular troupe. Their last recruitment drive was in 2005 when they could still afford it.

"If the situation remains like this in the next five years, the opera will be dead," says Lin dejectedly.

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