Art for the ages

Updated: 2013-04-09 09:55

By Liu Xiangrui (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Art for the ages

Yan Dandan gets ready for her wudan role in a fight scene during a performance.

She says the role of Lady White Snake is so far her most successful.

"I cry every time I play the role, and I just can't control myself," she says, laughing. But, she adds, the role she enjoys most is the "shrew", which she says resonates with her lively nature.

Nevertheless, her art is a job and it is difficult for Yan and the troupe to support themselves financially.

"Sometimes I am exhausted. But as soon as I get ready for the next scene, I have to focus and invigorate myself."

She recalls having a bad stomachache on one occasion when taking the lead role, but had to hold back the pain. Since the troupe is a small one, she sometimes has to take up to six roles in one play.

Every evening the troupe rehearses for the next day's performance and new ideas are introduced to amuse the audience.

"I feel free to improvise on stage," Yan says.

She realizes her life is different from most of her peers and says of her acrobatic fighting and face changing skills: "I feel proud that I know something they don't, but I envy their steady lives."

Spring Festival is a tiring period as it is when she is most busy, while living the life of a gypsy, moving from place to place, is exhausting, she says.

"I don't like moving around. I always want to stay in one place for longer," she confides.

She recalls that a village once invited them to perform but suddenly canceled. Having no place to stay for the night, the troupe camped out on the steps of a shabby old temple.

"It was a cold and rainy winter night," Yan says of the occasion, when she was 11. "We were in the darkness, while the rest of the world was celebrating the New Year."

Living such a life, she has few friends of her own age. A fellow performer in her 30s is her best friend.

"We're similar in nature. Sometimes I think she is even closer to my heart than my parents," she says.

Art for the ages

Art for the ages

Time travels through design and art

 Embracing color for its own sake

Related Stories

A steamy sampling of Chinese art 2013-04-08 09:29
Stitches in time 2013-04-07 14:24
Beijing gets new colors 2013-04-07 11:00
Artisans learn to market 2013-04-03 13:29
Beijing hosts art show about tango 2013-04-02 09:16
Living master of thangka 2013-04-02 08:50