A Cultural Exploration of Beijing Opera

Moderated by Sadie Allen

On May 27th, the CIUS Center welcomed Louisa Huang and Isaac C. Xie to discuss Beijing Opera in the modern world as well as why the artform is impactful both personally and culturally both in Asia and abroad. During the program the pair shared how they came to become involved in the centuries old tradition and how they are helping bring it to new generations of audience members.

Beijing Opera dates back to the mid-Qing Dynasty and rose in prominence due to its popularity in the Qing courts. Known for their colorful and complex costumes, the performers become the focal point of the performance allowing for the precision of speech, dance, and movement to take center stage.

When asked why she became involved with Beijing Opera, Louisa replied that she took an interest as the artform was dying and she wanted to expose newcomers to the artform. She views it as both a hobby and a mission.  Isaac felt similar as he views Beijing Opera as a cherished family treasure, and that by participating he is able to connect deeper with his cultural heritage. He stated that he would not be who he is today if he was not introduced to the Opera by his dad at an early age.

About our Panelists

Louisa Huang is a Beijing Opera actress, a co-founder and the president of DC Beauty of Beijing Opera (DCBBO), which is a Maryland based non-profit organization with an aim to promote cultural exchange in the US East.  Together with her team, Louisa pursues breaking down the barriers between people of different ethnic origin through presenting a new, fresh theater form and acoustic rendition appealing to audiences from the East to the West. The educational oriented performances and workshops about Beijing Opera that DCBBO delivered for local communities, universities, public and private schools and US governments have benefited tens of thousands of people, enjoyed wide media coverage and were highly remarked upon by the public.

Louisa Huang

Isaac Xie was born and grew up in the USA and is currently a freshman at Middlebury College pursuing a joint major in Chemistry and Environmental Studies.  He also currently serves in the Middlebury College orchestra as a violinist. Under family influence, Isaac began learning Beijing Opera at age 3.  First performing in a Beijing Opera at age 6 and debuting on stage with the jinghu (Chinese Violin) at age 14, Isaac has performed and spread this traditional Chinese theater form to many throughout the Northeastern USA and various cities in China.  Isaac has enthusiastically served as a long-term volunteer of DCBBO and is now the youngest musician on the local Beijing Opera orchestra.

Isaac C. Xie

Watch the full discussion here: