China remains one of the countries with a huge and rich cultural heritage

China remains one of the countries with a huge and rich cultural heritage

The importance of traditional performing arts in preserving cultural heritage: A focus on Chinese opera and acrobatic visual performances in Beijing Peking Opera

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Abstract

China remains one of the countries with a huge and rich cultural heritage. As a result, it becomes and remains important for the people to maintain their cultural heritage. China’s cultural heritage is in danger of being lost for all time as a result of changing environmental and climatic conditions, increasing tourism, poor resource management, and the emergence of modern cities. The research aims at identifying, exploring, and defining the role of traditional performing arts in preserving the Chinese cultural heritage. In addition, the research will explore the role of traditional performing arts in preserving the Chinese cultural heritage. Lastly, the research will offer recommendations on the most effective evidence-based approaches and strategies to empower the current generation to retain the traditional performing arts for the sustainable preservation of the Chinese cultural heritage. By focusing on the Beijing’s Peking Opera, the study shows that the preservation of a nation’s natural and cultural legacies is crucial and beneficial. It is a face that the general people can see and that may spread to the rest of the globe. Cultural heritage creates a comprehensive framework for preserving historical sites, aging buildings, monuments, shrines, and landmarks, providing insight into who we are as a people.

Keywords: cultural heritage, Peking Opera, traditional culture

The importance of traditional performing arts in preserving cultural heritage: A focus on Chinese opera and acrobatic visual performances in Beijing Peking Opera

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Dance, theater, vocal and instrumental music, pantomime, spoken poetry, and other creative activities are included in the phrase performance arts. They contain a diverse range of cultural expressions that demonstrate people’s creativity and may be found in a variety of different intangible cultural heritage areas. Music is perhaps the most popular performing art since it can be found in any location. It is often a vital element of other performing arts and cultural aspects that cannot be seen or touched, such as rituals, pleasant occasions, and oral traditions. In other words, it is an essential component of culture (Diettrich, 2015). It may be found in a broad variety of situations, whether religious or non-religious, traditional or contemporary, and tied to work or recreational activities. Music may have a political or economic side since it can both document a society’s history and honor a renowned individual, as well as being an integral part of financial transactions. Music is performed at a variety of occasions, including weddings, funerals, ceremonies and initiations, festivals, various sorts of entertainment, and a variety of other social gatherings. Despite its complexity, dance may be defined as a sequence of planned bodily motions performed to music (Hani et al., 2021). Apart from the physical aspect of dance, the rhythmic gestures, steps, and motions of dance may sometimes transmit a mood or emotion or represent something that occurred or something that people do on a daily basis (Günlü, Pırnar, & Yağcı, 2009). This is true for religious dances as well as dances depicting sexual behavior, battle, or hunting. Traditional theater performances sometimes feature acting, singing, dancing, and music in addition to recitation, narration, or debate. Pantomime or puppetry may be utilized in traditional plays on occasion. As such, these modes of expression are always vital to a culture and society, such as when singing songs while working or perform music at ceremonies.

In the most well-known kind of Chinese opera, also known as Peking opera or Beijing opera, there is singing, miming, dancing, and even acrobatics. Beginning in Beijing in the middle of the Qing dynasty, it reached its pinnacle of development and acceptance by the middle of the 19th century. Jingju, commonly referred to as Beijing opera, is a fantastic live performance art form that attracts visitors from all over the globe and enthralls, captivates, and frequently confounds them (Lin & Lian, 2018). This uniquely Chinese art form never fails to astound and enthrall spectators with its lavish costumes and makeup, emotive and acrobatic stage gestures, highly symbolic and stylized content, and distinctive musical style (Long & Sweet, 2006). The best approach to describe art is as a combination of stylized patterns in language, movement, staging, clothing, cosmetics, and music. The best way to describe the art is in this way (instrumental and vocal). Each of these characteristics is the result of a long-standing system and is presented as live art via the efforts of skilled performers. Traditional performing arts as presented through Beijing Opera preserve the Chinese cultural heritage through enabling self-discovery and expression, historical reflection and education, enhancing creativity, and integration into the modern city fabric.

1.2 Problem Statement

Any objects connected to cultural manifestations and activities—whether they be instruments, artifacts, places, or other objects—are included in the Convention’s definition of intangible cultural assets. This comprises musical instruments, stage sets and props, costumes, and other forms of body adornment connected to dance in the performing arts (Satoru, 2007). The Convention defines cultural spaces as places that often host performing arts performances because of their proximity to such events. The performing arts are not without peril in the modern world. Many once-acceptable acts are abandoned when new cultural norms take hold (Evens & Hauttekeete, 2011). Even if they become more widespread, it’s likely that only a select few expressions will profit while others would suffer. The clearest illustration of this in the field of music right now is probably the rise in popularity of “World Music.” Even if this phenomenon is crucial for the exchange of cultural ideas and promotes innovation (Petronela, 2016), which enhances creative scenes throughout the world, it may nonetheless have negative effects (Kafadar, 2021). It is possible to create a homogenous final product by homogenizing a range of musical genres. It is feasible. In this context, several musical approaches serve a very specific function. These musical techniques are essential to the process of performing as well as the heritage of certain ensembles.

China’s cultural heritage is in danger of being lost for all time as a result of changing environmental and climatic conditions, increasing tourism, poor resource management, and the emergence of modern cities. Tour operators regularly include these kinds of activities in their itineraries. Cultural marketing campaigns aimed at luring visitors generally place a strong focus on music, dance, and theater (Gražulevičiūtė, 2006). While this could lead to an increase in tourism, more income for the nation or city, and the opportunity to learn about the local culture, it might also lead to the creation of brand-new performing arts acts catered to the tastes of tourists. The resurgence of traditional performing arts and the creation of “economic value” for intangible cultural assets may be facilitated by tourism; nevertheless, performances of these arts may be compromised in order to add elements that are more appealing to tourists. Occasionally, traditional artworks are commercialized in order to increase consumer accessibility, which ultimately results in the loss of crucial forms of collective expression (Long & Sweet, 2006). In other situations, more pervasive aspects of society or the environment might seriously harm performing arts traditions. For instance, a community could no longer have access to the kind of wood needed to create traditional musical instruments if its forests are cut down.

In order to be recorded or utilized for instructional purposes, many Chinese musical compositions and traditional performing arts have been altered to correspond to western notational systems; nonetheless, it is likely that this has had a negative impact on the originals (Maags, 2020). The majority of Chinese performing arts and musical genres use scales that deviate from common Western patterns in terms of their tones and intervals. As a consequence, during transcribing, some of the tonal nuances inherent in the original may be lost (Lin & Lian, 2018). For instance, adding frets to stringed instruments substantially alters the sound of the instrument and breaks up the song’s monotony. The main objectives of China’s efforts to conserve its traditional performing arts should be the development of musical instruments, the dissemination of knowledge and expertise, and the establishment of master-apprentice relationships. To the greatest degree possible, all artistic performances, dance routines, and theatrical interpretations must be emphasized for their complexity.

1.3 Research Questions

In order to remain focused on the study issues mentioned above, the present research will be guided by the following research questions:

How do the Chinese traditional performing arts preserve their cultural heritage?

What role do the performing artists play that contributes to the preservation of the Chinese cultural heritage?

1.4 Aims of the Study

Performance could include performance recording, documenting, inventorying, and preservation. The digitization process allows for the proper identification and classification of conserved items. Increased public awareness and audience expansion are two of the most significant initiatives that may be done to safeguard the survival of traditional performing arts (Maags, 2020). Another key stage includes the involvement of cultural media, institutions, and industry. Connoisseurship may lead to heightened interest in regional variations of an art form as well as active engagement in the performance itself. Audiences may be educated on the many components of a form of expression, hence broadening its appeal (Labadi & Long, 2010). This may be done by educating audiences about the many aspects of a certain kind of expression.

The research aims at identifying, exploring, and defining the role of traditional performing arts in preserving the Chinese cultural heritage. In addition, the research will explore the role of traditional performing arts in preserving the Chinese cultural heritage. Lastly, the research will offer recommendations on the most effective evidence-based approaches and strategies to empower the current generation to retain the traditional performing arts for the sustainable preservation of the Chinese cultural heritage.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Globalization as a Threat to Cultural Heritage

Leaving aside the political rhetoric, globalization has resulted in significant disruption in China. The frequent conflict between Western and Chinese culture is one of this shift’s most striking features. In many situations, people turn to Western culture as an example of strength and beauty. Globalization is not a brand-new concept. The ties that China has with other parts of the globe have had a significant impact on its history. For more than five millennia, interactions with people from different parts of the world have shaped China’s history and cultural identity (Zhang, 2019). What, then, exactly makes up China’s cultural heritage? Through Mongolia and the Silk Road, people have traveled to China from all over the globe and from a variety of cultures. It has always had novel and varied ideas about itself (Io, 2019). The very first cultural exchanges occurred in China and, thus, Chinese culture encompasses a wide variety of topics, which may be seen in its architecture and design as expressed in its various forms of performing arts.

Reference to a group’s or culture’s legacy points to both tangible and intangible items that are a part of that group or culture, are handed down from one generation to the next, are preserved in the present, and are left for future generations ((Labadi & Long, 2010). The material culture of a people is also a crucial component of their heritage (Lin & Lian, 2018). For example, buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artefacts can be used to define a culture of people. In addition to natural heritage, which consists of folklore, customs, language, and knowledge, it also comprises oral traditions, performing arts, social norms, rituals, holiday celebrations, knowledge of nature and the cosmos, or the ability to manufacture traditional crafts (Hani et al., 2012). Whatever form they may take, these things are a part of human legacy, and people owe it to themselves to do all in their power to keep them secure.

Most people think the twenty-first century will be known as the globalization century. Even if economic globalization has many advantages, it also poses a significant obstacle to the advancement of cultural globalization (McLaren, 2011). Cities’ economic development is significantly influenced by culture (Fan & Niyomsilp, 2022). The preservation of priceless historical cultural artifacts is more crucial than ever. Protecting cultural treasures has both cultural and economic repercussions (Io & Chong, 2022). A nation’s cultural legacy may provide light on both its overall history and its fundamental sense of self. The protection of cultural heritage has grown to be both a significant economic opportunity and an essential component of achieving sustainable development. Cultural objects and artifacts may be safeguarded and preserved using a variety of methods. One method that is often employed is to keep cultural assets up to date via the creative industry (Radzuan, Fukami, & Yahaya, 2014). One of many different forms of creative industries is the sector of creative culture. The creative industries are beginning to get more attention in the post-industrial economies centered on information. They are believed to be responsible for the above-average economic growth and job creation. Additionally, they promote cultural variety and serve as significant representations of cultural identity (Io & Chong, 2022). Identifying the issues that need to be taken into consideration in order to use the creative sector to safeguard cultural heritage is the most crucial thing that can be done. Then, research must concentrate on how the creative industry may blend cultural practices into commercial aims in order to preserve cultural heritage.

The preservation of a nation’s natural and cultural legacies is crucial and beneficial. It is a face that the general people can see and that may spread to the rest of the globe. Cultural heritage creates a comprehensive framework for preserving historical sites, aging buildings, monuments, shrines, and landmarks, providing insight into who we are as a people (Io, 2019). People are able to better know themselves more fully as a result of this. Since they both reflect and create the fundamental beliefs, values, and ambitions of a people, culture and history are essential in forming that people’s sense of national identity. The cultural history of a people must be preserved for future generations since it is so important to who they are (Alivizatou-Barakou et al., 2017). It is the enormous quantity of knowledge and skill that is handed on via cultural expression—not the cultural expression itself—that is significant. Both the minority and the majority of people in a state gain from the exchange of knowledge, which is crucial in this regard for the social and economic well-being of that state. Additionally, it is crucial for both developed and emerging nations.

2.2 Performance Arts and the Facilitation of Self-Discovery and Expression

People are given the opportunity to better understand and express themselves via the medium of the performing arts. Students are better able to appreciate their cultural past as a result, and the need of conserving it is brought to light. People are more likely to keep anything in their lives that they care about and enjoy as part of their routine. Every society has its own unique performing arts that exhibit the manner in which its members dress, play music, make art, tell stories, and engage in a wide range of other activities that are peculiar to their culture (Kafadar, 2021). People that are a part of your culture will be overjoyed to discuss their passions with you, whether it be their jobs, their hobbies, or their crafts, and they will be happy to share their experiences with you. This does contain the kinds of artworks that you could see in a museum, but it also encompasses a great deal more than that. A cultural artifact might be anything from a utensil used in the kitchen to a piece of software written on a computer. According to Degges-White (2020), there are a variety of approaches to communication that may be accomplished via the arts. People are able to speak with one another and engage in ways that are not possible with more traditional forms of art or communication. Participating in activities related to performance art helps to create an atmosphere in which people are more likely to engage in complex connections with themselves (Evens & Hauttekeete, 2011). The process of self-discovery often results in individuals gaining a newfound appreciation for their own culture. This, in turn, contributes to the continued existence of the culture within the community.

The idea of a cultural legacy includes things that can be carried as well as those that cannot be moved, as is shown by the performing arts. Additionally, it includes things that can be seen as well as those that cannot be seen. These assets are so precious in and of themselves that they have been passed down from generation to generation. Over the course of history, the word “legacy” has come to mean an increasingly broad range of concepts (Kafadar, 2021). At first, the word “legacy” referred exclusively to the enormous artifacts that ancient civilizations had left behind for future generations. Nevertheless, throughout the course of time, it has come to denote not just existing civilizations but also representations of the past. The cultivation of local communities and the facilitation of people’s active participation in social and cultural life both rely heavily on people’s connections to their heritage, which provides a sense of both stability and identity to individuals (Petronela, 2016). Additionally, it may provide tried-and-true ways for preventing conflict and bringing individuals together in a cohesive group.

2.2.1 Traditional Culture Preservation

The People’s Republic of China has been a stalwart supporter of the World Heritage movement throughout the course of the last several years. Officials at the national level of the Chinese government have therefore requested that provincial and local governments identify, categorize, and promote both physical historic places as well as activities that comprise the nation’s intangible heritage. Such measures are made to ensure the protection of local cultures and traditions from the grassroot level. Nonetheless, the goal does not restrict itself just to the protection of cultural heritage sites and traditions. Instead, the goal is to use these things as tools of state-building and growth (Wei & Long, 2021). On the one hand, state and party authorities regarded heritage as a method of luring tourists, especially in areas with low natural resources and industrial growth. This was particularly true in regions with limited natural resources and industrial development. The inhabitants of these areas have the mindset that a rich cultural history can make up for the dearth of natural resources and lack of industrialization. On the other hand, the government makes an effort to leverage the protection of heritage in order to develop a sense of national identity, especially in areas that are mostly inhabited by minority groups. The traditional ways of life and cultural practices of China’s many minority ethnic groups and civilizations are under danger as a result of the rapid and broad economic and social changes brought about by industrialization. Oracles from the Shang Dynasty wrote down what they knew about an ancient ethnic group that was known as the Qiang. The significance of this group in the history of China helped prepare the way for the development of other ethnic groups in China, such as the Han, who are currently the largest ethnic group (Wei & Long, 2021). The Qiang have an extensive and intriguing history, which has enabled them to develop a culture that is uniquely their own throughout the course of time. Oral literature, festivals, music and dance, the way houses are built, arts and crafts, dress, food, and other aspects of this culture are all components of this culture.

2.2.2 Ensuring Cultural Heritage

Even though China has achieved a lot of progress in the last ten years in terms of safeguarding its cultural legacy, the country is still up against a number of obstacles. The consequences of mass tourism, the effects of climate change, and the ongoing pressure from industrialization are the most serious of these concerns. Since the 1990s, researchers in China have been actively developing theories on the preservation of cultural properties, with a particular emphasis on doing so throughout the course of the most recent fifteen years. The year 1990 marked the beginning of this period of time in history. The recognition of new types of cultural assets and a more nuanced understanding of the conservation principles of authenticity, integrity, and acceptable application have both contributed to a firmer theoretical foundation for conservation in China.

Chinese Art After 1279 (Art history teaching resources, 2022).

As a result of its very lengthy history, China has an extremely extensive cultural legacy. The last several decades have seen the country experience economic expansion and social advancement on a scale that has never been seen before. This has ushered in both new possibilities and problems for the preservation of the nation’s cultural assets. Since the turn of the century, there has been a significant increase in the number of people working to preserve China’s cultural heritage. As a direct result of this, there has been an increase in the amount of theoretical research conducted, as well as an increase in the amount of communication and cooperation amongst conservationists all over the globe. The recent achievements that China has had in its efforts to preserve its historical heritage are reflected in the country’s efforts to further strengthen its foundation. The Third National Heritage Site Inventory, which began in the previous decade and continued for a total of four and a half years, is considered to be the most exhaustive survey that has ever been conducted in China. At the same time, specialists investigated the underwater possibilities of other historic landmarks, including the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, and the Silk Road, amongst others.

The Great Wall of China (Science ABC, 2022).

During the course of this time period, China has achieved significant progress toward the preservation of archaeological parks for large-scale sites as well as the construction of new parks. As a result of this, the country has acquired the knowledge necessary to strike a balance between the conflicting goals of urban expansion and the protection of historic sites. The creation of archaeological parks is one example of an innovative approach to the conservation, utilization, interpretation, and presentation of archaeological sites. These initiatives take into consideration the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders, as well as the benefits that can be gained from increased tourism and economic growth. Collectively, these initiatives have been beneficial to the people in the area; they have brought about significant social and economic benefits; they have contributed to the sustainable expansion of archaeological assets; and they have helped to safeguard cultural variety.

2.3 Learning Programs in Performing Arts as a Basis to Preserve Cultural Heritage

Through historical analysis and instructional programs, cultural legacy may be preserved. This is due to the fact that art is an integral element of the human experience. The design of a plan for teaching children is an essential subject that would contribute to the perpetuation of cultural problems since it focuses on the next generation as cultural inheritors. This would aid in the preservation of cultural artifacts throughout time. By providing chances for young people to learn about their cultural treasures, society as a whole would be better equipped to defend and preserve its cultural legacy, and the values it promotes would be more widely disseminated. According to Khurramovich (2022), participation in traditional activities is crucial for young people to develop patriotism and get an education. Children’s creative potential may be enhanced via art education, which is a terrific approach to maintain cultural heritage and connect with them at the same time. Both scientists and artists have investigated the origins of imagination and creativity. Depending on the researcher’s initial area of scientific or artistic interest at the outset of their study, these events might be discussed in a variety of ways (Evens & Hauttekeete, 2011). Young people may consider the past and acquire new knowledge in order to comprehend and create art that challenges society from diverse perspectives, elicits empathy for others, and provokes reflection on the present status of humankind. Young people might thus utilize art as a means of speaking out against society.

No one concept of creativity is universally accepted. Instead, it varies from nation to nation and culture to culture. People have varying conceptions of what it means to be creative, which has resulted in varying conceptions of what creativity means in culture (Radzuan, Fukami, & Yahaya, 2014). Creativity is not only a cultural phenomenon; it is also a universal problem-solving method. However, bear in mind that each culture has a unique conception of what a problem is. These occurrences have been kept a secret, maybe because, in contrast to the actual world, imagination symbolizes a kind of freedom that is seen as self-sacrifice (Satoru, 2007). When engaging in a creative activity that makes you feel good, your imagination and creativity increase, which may then be applied to another area of study or action. This expansion of creativity and imagination may then be applied to different modes of learning and action. Imaginative creation is a spiritual discipline that may meticulously combine a variety of artistic or scientific experiences, along with the performances and discoveries that accompany them. This ability is known as integrative capacity (Labadi & Long, 2010). It is typical to let children to create anything they choose without imposing restrictions. It is believed to be required for the development of creative ideas. This strategy might help children develop and become more creative. Thus, the way they think and how they support their own creativity would be seen as granting them unrestricted freedom to fulfill their wants in the world of their imagination. This authorization would give them the flexibility to be innovative. Learners must let go of their concerns about the outcome of their work and their fear of failure in order to achieve calm throughout the creative expression process. People that participate in performance art have the opportunity to connect with the past, gain new knowledge, and create new works of art. All of these activities improve the lives of individuals and the state of the globe.

2.4 Performing Arts and Creativity for Young People in China

Performance art may encourage individuals to be more creative, which may be beneficial to a society’s economic and political progress. When children grow up in an atmosphere that supports creativity, they enhance their abstract and analytical thinking skills, as well as their capacity to perceive how things go together and become more receptive to unconventional ideas. People who think creatively are more likely to reject gender stereotypes and avoid forming hasty judgments about other people and circumstances (Wei & Long, 2021). They do most of their work on their own and are very self-disciplined in all parts of their job. They have excellent self-control, can cope with uncertainty, and can patiently wait for what they desire. Creative learners are prepared to take chances, work hard to be the best, and consider the broader picture and the wider world (Radzuan, Fukami, & Yahaya, 2014). If talented children are assisted in the proper manner, they will be able to become global thinkers and relate the arts to the real world. This might assist you in coming up with fresh ideas and solving difficulties for the rest of your life. Kids need to spend time outdoors in the light and fresh air for healthy development, and they also need to be able to express themselves creatively via the arts. By participating in the arts, children learn how to locate and think of ideas, how to start and solve issues, and how to create and produce things. According to Cerisola (2018), the ongoing mixing of location and culture has increased the importance of each region having its own culture, history, religion, and identity. The more links there are between location and culture, the more significant it becomes (Labadi & Long, 2010). Thus, performing arts foster creativity, which is critical for developing ideas that will make the world a better place politically and economically. The performing arts become a driving force behind social, political, and economic advancement, aiding in the preservation of China’s cultural past.

Putting performance art into modern cities helps to keep cultural heritage alive by making Chinese towns into cultural hubs for the whole world. The authors Zhang et al. (2020) say that the different patterns of urban cultural consumption reflect not only the current connections between cities and the global economy, but also the long-term effects of their cultural traditions on their evolution. Old performance art can be mixed into cities of today through theaters, settings, and institutions (Io & Chong, 2022). This not only helps keep the culture’s past alive, but also brings in new art, which helps traditional civilizations stay alive. Adding performance art to new city planning could help save China’s cultural history.

When it comes to originality and the development of novel concepts, China is light years ahead of the rest of the world in many respects. People’s inability to think creatively and beyond the box has prevented some of the major shifts that have occurred in the world over the last four decades from taking place (Howard, 2016). The demands and requirements of the people, as well as the many types of information infiltration and shifts in ideology that are coming from a variety of sources, are all taken into consideration at the highest levels of government (Wei & Long, 2021). It is more likely to be reacting at this moment than it is to be leading or directing at this stage. In this sense, I believe it is essential to emphasize that contemporary Chinese society has a great deal of originality as well as fresh concepts. Teenagers in China now have access to greater possibilities to develop and adapt as a result of China’s reform and opening-up policy (McLaren, 2010). They are quite knowledgeable about the most recent trends in clothing, art, music, and ways of

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