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Qinghai Tibetan children adapt Nuo Opera into puppetry

Reporter: Yang Ran 丨 CCTV.com

08-15-2016 18:04 BJT

Keba is a remote village in China’s western Qinghai province. People living in the big cities may have little understanding of the 3,600-meter high plateau.

But a group of children in Keba are narrating their culture, tradition and stories to the young audience from Beijing, Shanghai and even Hong Kong, with singing, dancing and puppetry.

Qinghai Tibetan children adapt Nuo Opera into puppetry

Qinghai Tibetan children adapt Nuo Opera into puppetry

Three mini plays—“A Magical Fox,” “Lamb Flower Girl” and “Jiutai the Brave Boy”—are presented by pupils from a mountain up on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Directing and technical support is provided by a group of volunteers.

Founded by Beijing businessman Wang Hongbo and his ardent volunteer fellows in 2013, Keba Dream Art Group is comprised of Keba Elementary School students, none of which have received any professional training in singing, dancing and puppetry.

Qinghai Tibetan children adapt Nuo Opera into puppetry

Qinghai Tibetan children adapt Nuo Opera into puppetry

Wang discovered the cultural value of the small village with his sharp mind. He found the historic village had abundant cultural messages, including worship dance, sacrifice ceremony, religious belief and the people's attitude toward life, death and nature.

“Back in 2012, I went to Keba and taught as a volunteer in Keba Elementary School for one semester. Kalsang Drolma was one of my first students. And there were very few students in my classes could speak Mandarin,” he said.

“I was inspired by the ancient Nuo dance and Nuo masks I saw in the village and the children's real experiences, so I wrote a four-act singing and dancing extravaganza ‘Keba Dream’ and found art teachers and director to help them to perform in the cities. The children had never dreamed of leaving the deep mountains and that greatly encouraged them.”

Last August, the group had their debut in Beijing at the Mei Lanfang Grand Theatre. The show attracted numerous charity organizations and even the government became involved to help them tour further. They have received an invitation from Hong Kong and they are confident to expect more.

Kalsang Drolma is a lucky girl who has overcome the panic of the outside world and the parents' worries of studying dancing in an art school in Xi’an. She is one of the few who has benefited from the bold plan, one that can definitely encourage others.

“I've been to many big cities and I find they are all different. I can’t breathe when I get off the train but everything is so new to me. My dream is to become a real actress,” said Kalsang Drolma, 11-year-old actress.

Inspired by the Nuo Opera, these puppet shows are trying to convey the belief and values native to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to those on the outside. And thanks to the generous support of many donors and volunteers, these young performers are able to not only dream bigger but also venture beyond the plateau to a bigger stage.

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