Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Old & New in China

I heard two cool segments on NPR this week about music in China. One was about ancient Chinese opera experimenting with jazz fusion, the other about a Chinese punk rocker exploring ancient Chinese music forms.

I especially loved these radio segments because I always need a reminder of "modern" culture in China. I think our vision of Chinese culture is stuck somewhere long before "The Last Emperor," in silk qi paos and bound feet. This is what I wrote about that tendency when we were in China last year and Zoe's class performed for Children's Day:
Zoe had to be at the kindergarten at 7:30 a.m., in costume, for makeup. I admit to being a little surprised by her costume (denim skirt and pink t-shirt) – silly me, I expected it to be some Chinese-esque outfit or something dance-recitally. (It’s really silly of me to keep expecting dance performances in China to be some kind of “culturally Chinese” experience. It’s not like every dance performance in the U.S. is square dancing or clogging or something else “typically American.” It’s part of my tendency to exoticize China, I think. Somehow it’s more natural to think of China as it was centuries ago (maybe we should call it “Mulan Syndrome!”) rather than as it is today).
So I'm trying to do better, and radio blurbs like these help!

No comments: