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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

Singing the praises of Chinese culture

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

08:18, March 23, 2012

Ji Chao, a graduate from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, is an aficionado of traditional Chinese culture, including poems and ancient operas. (Zou Hong / China Daily)

Every Saturday the 24-year-old teaches youngsters about Chinese opera, including zuoyi, a greeting with hands folded together and raised in front of the chest while bowing.

"These are really easy things to do and they express Chinese culture, which the young generation should know," said Ji, a graduate from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts.

Ji studied calligraphy for four years in university and spent his spare time learning to play the guqin, a seven-string zither, as well as learning about traditional culture and reciting Chinese poems.

During weekends, he passes on his knowledge of Chinese opera, especially Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera, to kids aged 3 to 10 at the sinology school of Guozijian and Confucius Temple, as well as a weekly children's workshop at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

To make his class as interesting as possible, Ji has created cartoon figures wearing Kunqu Opera costumes and masks, which he shows on a screen. The students also have fun while dressing in hanfu - a traditional Chinese outfit - and practicing zuoyi with each other.

Although the operas were once like the pop music of today, the number of people learning their techniques has dwindled.

"Is tradition losing its grip on young Chinese people? I don't think so," he said. "The children are happy when they see the colorful opera costumes and makeup. What they need is a chance to take a look and learn in their own way."

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