Performing Arts

Beijing boasts a wide range of performing arts with something for every taste and interest.

The new National Center for the Performing Arts, a strikingly innovative building nicknamed “the Egg”, is located behind the Great Hall of the People, next to Tiananmen Square. At the Center visitors will find a wide range of performing arts: operas (both Chinese and western), concerts, theatrical performances, ballet and modern dance.

Other large venues in the city include the Beijing Concert Hall in Liubukou which hosts the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, and the Poly Theater on the East Third Ring Road.

(Beijing Opera) Beijing Opera

Chinese opera, performed in the capital city by the Beijing or Peking Opera (jingju), is an unfamiliar performance art for most westerners. The singing, which is accompanied by various loud percussion and string instruments, can seem harsh to ears unaccustomed to the sound. However the costumes are elaborate and colorful and the choreography is inspired by martial arts. The performers are made up with dramatic face paints with different colors symbolizing the character they are representing: black for honesty, blue for bravery, red for loyalty and white for cruelty. The stories of the operas are often based on Chinese folklore and history or focus on class struggle. Some theaters offer shortened forms of Chinese operas for tourists with subtitles or plot summaries to help those unfamiliar with the stories.

China is famous for its acrobats, and Beijing offers many opportunities to see their captivating and astonishing feats of athleticism: juggling, plate spinning, tumbling, balancing and contortions. The Beijing Acrobatics Troupe is the most famous group in the city and performs at Wansheng Juchang on the west side of the Temple of Heaven. Other acrobats can be seen at Chaoyang Juchang, south of Tuanjie Hu Park.

Puppet shows are a popular form of entertainment dating back hundreds of years. At the China Puppet Art Theater in Anhua Xi Li, visitors can watch wonderful performances using hand puppets, marionettes and shadow puppets.

Teahouse theater is a great way for tourists to experience a sampling of many different forms of Chinese performing arts while drinking tea and enjoying a light meal. The Lao She Teahouse on the southwest side of Tiananmen Square is the most famous, but there are many teahouse theaters scattered throughout the city.