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Yueju is a traditional Chinese lyrical opera. Xiao Ya is one of the biggest stars in its all-female cast. Her stature and voice made her ideal to play the role of 'xiaosheng'. With her mother's encouragement, Xiao Ya worked her way up the state troupe, appearing at major venues and collecting prestigious awards. Boosted by her own success she began to develop her own style, but soon met with criticism from her colleagues. Unwilling to be constrained, she decided to break out on her own. But independent artistes find it hard to compete with government-backed troupes. Xiao Ya is nevertheless determined to follow her vocation and in her bid to be successful she creates her own brand and attempts to widen her repertoire and audience reach.
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First broadcast:
20 November 2007

Classroom Ideas

This clip can be used in an in-depth study of the traditional Chinese art and music. Ask students to map out different traditional Chinese operas in different regions. List their main differences. For example, in Beijing, opera casts are both male and female. In Yueju opera in South-east China, casts are female only.

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