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In this day and age when pop groups can pack arenas on a regular basis, local governments are scratching their heads trying to come up with ways to protect various forms of local opera.
Yangzhou, a city in east China, provides a good example. It's a rather minor type when compared to the likes of Peking opera. Nevertheless, Yangzhou opera is expected to see a resurgence as the local government nurtures new young talents.
Yangzhou opera was recognized as a national intangible heritage in 2006.
A year later, a government sponsored Yangzhou opera class was set up at the Yangzhou Cultural and Art school.
Forty-five students, ranging in age from twelve to nineteen, were enrolled into the first class. All of their expenses - tuition, room and board - were paid by the local government. Three years later, these students are ready to graduate and fill the local art troupes with a new injection of vitality. And this is their graduation show.
Yangzhou opera was on the verge of extinction in the 1990s. For more than ten years there were no newcomers to the performing team. So, the government sponsored class is considered a real shot in the arm for the art form.
Practice makes perfect. For three years, these kids received intensive training in both singing and physical skills.
A student of Yangzhou Opera Training Class, said, "The physical training is the hardest. Every day we practice straight splits, lateral splits, and back bends, which is the toughest."
But their hard work paid off, as can be seen from their successful graduation performance.
A Yangzhou opera artist, said, "We're glad to see these kids are terrific on stage. With them added to the team, Yangzhou opera will be carried forward."
One third of the 45 graduates will be enrolled into the Yangzhou opera troupe soon. Their debut show, a youthful version of Yangzhou opera classic "Jiangdu Princess" will be staged in August.