Feature: How Peking Opera brings Detroit, Beijing closer
Last Updated: 2015-03-02 13:52 | Xinhua
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The spirit of Mei Lanfang, the first Peking Opera performing master to bring the art to the United States early last century, was revived as a Chinese troupe presented to over 1,000 spectators a splendid Peking Opera performance here on Sunday.

Organizer Lisa Gray took the performance, sponsored by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council and its Beijing branch, as an effective way to strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

"So I think the two countries have to collaborate." she told Xinhua. "I will work very hard to build bridges between them."

The U.S. politicians also looked forward to enhancing bilateral relations and understanding through cultural exchanges.

"I think it's important that we continue to improve and grow our relationship with China, both in terms of political and cultural and business communities. Anything I can do to further that goal, I'm happy to work hard at," newly elected Congressman David Trott told Xinhua.

Echoing his remarks, Rodrick T. Miller, president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporations, said: "Detroit really embraces Chinese culture and Chinese society."

The troupe, coming from Beijing, performed some of the most famous Peking Opera works, including The True and False Monkey King, with two colorfully dressed monkey kings battling each other; and Farewell My Concubine.

"It's a great cultural experience ... I love to experience new cultures and look at new dances and how they work," said Chanel Stefanovi, a 12-year-old Jewish girl. "I love how the different costumes and makeup are just whole different experiences compared to what I'm used to."

Chanel has been learning Mandarin and attending Chinese singing lessons since she was four years old. She is now looking for someone to teach her how to play Chinese musical instruments.

Her father, Milan Stefanovich, fully supports her efforts. Peking Opera "is the highest level of Chinese cultural entertainment, we bought 10 tickets and we're going to bring a whole bunch of people," he said.

Peking Opera's role in narrowing cultural divides was also recognized by actors and actresses of the troupe.

Wang Rongrong, a renowned Peking Opera actress, told Xinhua that as a professional, she feels it is her responsibility to bring the Chinese culture to the United States.

"I would like to introduce the great art to all our American friends and hope they will like it," she said.

Bai Jin, the youngest actress of the troupe, was surprised to see their performance draw warm applause of the audience.

"American audiences are much more enthusiastic than I expected," she said.

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