INTRODUCTION: During China's cultural revolution it would have been fatal to take your caged bird for an airing in the park or sing a passage from Peking opera.
GV & SV Joggers in Peking park (4 shots)
GV & SV Men doing Tai Ji Quan, slow motion calisthenics(2 shots)
GV Man swinging two swords
SV woman dancing alone
GV Man climbing tree
GV Man shouting
GV Man practising operatic areas
SV Kai Bar telling story in rhyming couplets accompanied by Chinese equivalent of castanets
SV Man practising opera singing
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Background: INTRODUCTION: During China's cultural revolution it would have been fatal to take your caged bird for an airing in the park or sing a passage from Peking opera. Now the parks of the Chinese capital are centres of creative activity with songbirds singing and the air filled with the arias of amateur opera singers.
As in the West, joggers are everywhere making a few quick circuits of the park before work. Unlike the West, they are intensely shy of cameras and foreigners and quickly sprint faster at any approach.
More graceful but less energetic are the slow motion calisthenics of Tai Ji Quan based on unarmed combat. Others prefer to swing swords gently as they practise movements.
During the cultural revolution the Red Guards cut down trees all over the city but surviving woods and thickets conceal the park's performers. A few people dance by themselves. Some climb trees and others left off stem by shouting.
Opera was thoroughly crushed by the Gang of Four. Here it re-surfaces as young workers practise arias.
In an old pavilion, an enthusiast, gives a performance to a small knot of friends. He recites a story in rhyming couplets accompanied by the Chinese equivalent of castanets. Ironically, the verse recounts Chairman Mao's advice to all people to get out and exercise in the mornings. The song is called Kai Bar.
Western music, denounced as "feudal" during the Cultural Revolution, is being rediscovered. In the trees, an elevator boy pours out the latest addition to his repertoire painstakingly learnt from old sheet music.