Gen Z students spark national passion for Peking Opera

“416 Girls” of Shanghai Theater Academy, Shanghai Municipality, East China. /CMG

“416 Girls” of Shanghai Theater Academy, Shanghai Municipality, East China. /CMG

Five Gen Z girls from Shanghai Theater Academy recently went viral on the internet with their short videos performing at Peking Opera, sparking a fashionable passion for opera across the country. The students, Yang Xi, Bian Jingting, Zhu Huan, Cheng Xiaochen, and Zhu Jiayin, are all from the Chinese Opera School and live in Dormitory No. 416, so they are also dubbed “416 Girls” by netizens.

At first, the “416 Girls” started practicing Peking Opera on the live streaming platform as part of their graduation work. They took every available minute to practice in various places, from the playground to the dormitory. To better adapt to the songs and rhythm of the opera, they also dressed in traditional Chinese clothing such as cheongsam, hanfu, and opera costumes.

The girls posted daily practice videos and sang on social media. Sometimes they also display costumes, makeup, and gestures to let netizens study the details of Peking Opera. Their Peking Opera-related videos have racked up over 20 million likes. In particular, the song “Tan Chuang 探窗 (Looking through the Windows)” got more than 50 million views and 2.5 million likes on social media platforms.

“416 Girls” of Shanghai Theater Academy, Shanghai Municipality, East China. /CMG

“416 Girls” of Shanghai Theater Academy, Shanghai Municipality, East China. /CMG

When learning opera, there are always difficulties along the way. Zhu Huan, one of the team members, said she suffered a serious back injury due to a technical error, resulting in 26-degree spinal scoliosis. The doctor and her family advised her to give up the practice, but she persisted.

The most fulfilling moment for 416 Girls is that after watching their videos, many followers take the initiative to research and learn more about Peking Opera and even want to learn Peking Opera. “As more and more people are enjoying opera, we are very happy and satisfied with what we are doing,” the team said.

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