Thinking of Teaching English in China? You'll need these 3 things
Monday, October 14, 2019

English teachers are in very high demand all over China. With a quick internet search for “teaching English in China” you will find a slew of resources geared towards helping people make the big move. It’s not just a career change, it’s an everything change. +

Golden Week, China's Busiest Holiday
Monday, October 07, 2019

Ever wonder what life would be like if everyone in the country got a week off twice a year? Sounds amazing right? China's Golden Week holiday takes place twice a year. The first week is during China’s spring festival and is set around the Chinese New Year. The second begins around October 1st as China celebrates its National Day. +

Peking Opera, the famous Chinese form of Opera
Tuesday, September 03, 2019

user:smartneddy, Beijing opera02, CC BY-SA 3.0

Peking Opera, also known as Beijing Opera, is the most well-known form of Chinese opera. Combining music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics, it first started in Beijing in the mid-Qing dynasty (1636-1912). It is also on Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage. About 400 Peking Opera plays are performed on a regular basis.

Typically, the opera features four main types of roles: Sheng, Dan, Jing and Chou. Shen is the main male role and has numerous subtypes. One type is the role of the dignified older man who has a gentle disposition and often wears a sensible costume. Another type is that of the young man. These characters often sign in a high, shrill voice that occasionally breaks to represent the voice changing period of adolescence. Last, but not least, is the martial role type. These characters are highly trained in acrobatics and have a natural voice when singing.

Dan is a female role and like in the original English plays, those roles were typically played by men. Originally, these roles were divided into five subtypes: older women, martial women, young female warriors, virtuous and elite women, and vivacious and unmarried women. Typically, a troupe will have a young Dan to play main roles and an older Dan for secondary parts.

Jing is a painted face male role. Painted face often refers to male characters with a unique appearance or personality. Depending on the troupe, this role is either a primary or secondary role. Since the role is for a forceful character, the Jing must be able to exaggerate gestures and have a strong voice. There are 15 basic facial patterns for this role, but over 1,000 specific variations of those patterns. Each design is unique to a specific character.

Chou, a male clown role, is usually a secondary role. Considered a minor role, these characters are generally amusing and likeable. This is one of the most demanding roles to play due to its combination of comic acting, acrobatics and a strong voice.

Talyorandayumi, Flickr

All performers use four main skills: song, speech, dance-acting and combat, including both acrobatics and fighting with weaponry. All of these skills must be performed effortlessly and must be combined during a single performance, though some skills may take precedence at certain moments. These skills are also used to emphasize meaning rather than accuracy. All performers aim to put beauty in every motion and are criticized for lacking beauty during training.

Many Peking Opera performances deal with behaviors that occur in real life. However, these behaviors are stylized to be presented on stage. The most common stylization method is roundness and every pose and motion is carefully manipulated to avoid sharp angles and straight lines. In line with this symbolic nature, very few props are used.

Traditionally, the opera stages have been square platforms. The stage is divided into two parts by an embroidered curtain and musicians are visible to the audience on the front part of the stage. Viewers are always seated south of the stage causing north to be the most important direction in the opera.

Glenn Strong, Flickr

The length and internal structure of the opera is highly variable. The opera is sometimes performed as one act and is marked by an emotional progression from the beginning to the end. However, longer operas typically have anywhere between six to fifteen scenes and the overall story is told through contrasting scenes. Scenes typically alternate between civil and martial scenes or scenes involving antagonists or protagonists.

Sound like something you want to check out? Beijing is well-known for its opera houses. Check out our post to see what other things you can do in Beijing after catching a performance and start planning your trip by taking a look at China’s visa requirements here.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Formerly a tiny fishing village, Shanghai is one of China’s most well-known cities. One of Asia’s major financial centers it is also known as the world’s busiest container port. Located on China’s eastern coast, summers are hot and humid while winters are chilly and damp. Some of the best times to visit are in spring and fall.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Known for the Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an was the eastern end of the Silk Road and served as the imperial seat of the Zhou, Quin, Han and Tang dynasties. Now the capital of the Shaanxi province, the city is a mix of both old and new. Located in the Wei River valley, the city has four distinct seasons. Springs are mild and summers are hot and humid. Fall is the best season to visit as in winter temperatures can drop below zero.


What to Do

Definitely check out the Army of Terracotta Warriors that stand guard over China’s first emperor, Quin Shi Huang. 8,000 soldiers, each with unique features, they were meticulously recreated. This army tells us a lot about Ancient China and are amongst the city’s main attractions.

Located in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, the Great Mosque is the oldest in the country. Dating back to 742 AD, the mosque is still in use today. Blending Chinese and Islamic architecture, the central minaret is disguised as a pagoda. The mosque also features classic Chinese temple features such as spirit walls which were designed to keep demons at bay.

Located on the Yi River, the Longmen Grottoes are a series of limestone caves approximately 1500 years old. A marvel of human architecture, there are an estimated 110,000 Buddha statues carved into the walls with heights ranging from 25mm to 17m. The Grottoes are located in Luoyang, the former capital of the late Northern Wei Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty.
Want to check out Xi’an for yourself? Plan your visit by first checking out China’s tourist visa requirements here.