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Superstars promote Chinese culture abroad

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

12-23-2015 15:25 BJT

By Hu Yifeng, Director, Research Division, Literature and Art Critics Association, China

On Nov. 30, the 2016 Pirelli New-Year Calendar Market Launch was held in London. Yao Chen, a Chinese actress, became the first Chinese cover girl to appear on a limited-edition, highly collectible calendar.

 

This is not just entertainment news, but an important cultural event, which lays the path for Chinese culture to go global.

"Personification" refers to specific names and images that are more penetrating than abstract ideas for cultural transmission.

For peoples of other nations, they gain a better understanding of Chinese culture, which is more intuitive and effective than conveying abstract theories or incoherent texts.

Beijing opera with a history of over 200 years is the most influential style of opera in China. It is popular among not only Chinese people but also many foreigners. Renowned Beijing opera artist Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) was famous for his skillful portrayal of female roles, with his beautifully rhymed and sweet arias and exquisite performances.

In the year when Mei Lanfang performed in the United States, he spoke about a cultural "personification" exchange.

On February 8, 1930, a headline in a New York newspaper read, "The Great Artist Mei Lanfang, who is popular with 500 million people, comes to New York!"

On February 16, the Peking Opera performed for the first time in a US theater. Mei performed Fenhe River Bay, The Sword Dance, The Assassination of General Li Gu, and other operas. Peking Opera had become an overnight sensation.

Two-week performance tickets were sold out in just three days. Mei had to answer more than 10 curtain calls after each performance and the audience waited in long lines to shake hands with him.

The US public said, "The East and West are twins that had never met before, but now they meet after all, which is embodied by Mei."

There are also contemporary examples, the youth version of "The Peony Pavilion", the most watched drama of the 2005 Macau International Arts Festival has been adapted and popularized in the overseas market.

Last September, the contemporary artist of Peking Opera, Zhang Huoding, performed "Legend of the White Snake" and "An Embroidered Treasure Pouch" in the David Coker Theater at Lincoln Center, New York.

The performance atmosphere was over-whelming, sparking unexpected success. Accordingly, Chinese traditional cultural "personification" external communications have been set up.

Meanwhile, Yao Chen's appearance on the world's top calendar can deepen our understanding of Chinese culture. The international spread of traditional culture can help global citizens accept contemporary "cultural China."

The nation should spread symbols of current Chinese culture. In an age of audio-visual culture, movie stars occupy an important position.

When we speak of the United Kingdom, we think of David Beckham, when it comes to the US, we think of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For China, from the early years of Bruce Lee, Gong Li, to Yao Chen, the current movie and TV stars, they exemplify cultural symbols.

Simultaneously, there are many more meaningful symbols that can reflect the contemporary Chinese cultural spirit, such as Nobel prize-winning author Mo Yan and pharmacist Tu Youyou.

Other examples including the recent revival of the original opera The White-Haired Girl, and critically-acclaimed novel The Ordinary World, are all worth promoting.

When we excavate all aspects of cultural symbols, we refine the integration of spiritual content.

Accordingly the international dissemination of Chinese culture would be more convenient and more solid for our times.

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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