She is a girl and she is a marionette.
Underground she lies - the folds of her costume and layers of face powder bury her. Ceaselessly, she practices trotting on stage, until the circles open a time fissure beneath her feet: she falls through the world of humans, all the way here. She learns from a woman how to walk, how to smile. Then one day, I realised that the sounds coming out from my mouth, those words -they have a life of their own.
Nanguan Xi (Nanguan Opera)
With its combination of poetry, song, dance, instrumental music, and storytelling, Chinese opera is highly representative and may pro- vide us with a wider perspective on the development of Chinese performing arts, especially since its performative body may serve as a direct lens towards the source of Chinese dance. What we call “Chizi Xi” is the earliest form of Chinese opera to appear in Taiwan, enjoying popularity among all classes. It originates from the ancient city of Quanzhou in southern China, and its singing and accom- paniment have been transmitted in Taiwan up until this day under the name of “Nanguan Opera”.
The stage movements in Nanguan Opera are highly refined. There are strict rules regarding the hand movements: when both hands are raised, they should not be higher than the eyebrows; when the hands are parted, they should not be lower than the navel; when both hands are cupped, they should not be higher than the chin. Many basic body movements resemble those of the string puppet theatre and are often performed by the young male and young female roles. Thus, Nanguan Opera presents soft and delicate move- ments sporadically interspersed with stiff string puppet-like ones.