Traditional Chinese opera has a long, expansive history. One of the most famous characters is the Monkey King, a character based on a 16th century novel who recently made an appearance on the U.S. east coast. 

The Monkey King, standing splits, and a bamboo flute

The Monkey King, standing splits, and a bamboo flute

Traditional Chinese performance art, including acrobatics, martial arts, and music, has a long, expansive history. Watch some performances and learn a bit about the Chinese artists who travel to the U.S. to share this art and culture.
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“The Monkey King created a tremendous uproar in the heavenly palace, then went on a pilgrimage for the Buddhist Scriptures, and finally became Warring and Winning Buddha,” said Sun Jingpeng, who has been playing the role of the Monkey King for more than a decade. “He’s a respectable hero.”

Performers from Henan school showcased Beijing Opera with acting, martial arts, acrobatics, and music on pipa, erhu, and bamboo flute. 

“We want to present our Chinese culture to the local residents and celebrate the Spring Festival with them,” Wang Yang of the Henan Opera troupe said. 

“There’s a huge interest in this 500,000-year-old country,” Alicia Adams, the vice president for International programming at the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said. “We are a nation of immigrants. It’s our job, if not our duty, to represent that which is America, which is the world.” 

The performance was held in Washington, D.C. on Chinese New Year day. 

Top image: Painted mural depicting the Monkey King (center, in yellow) and other main characters of the Chinese classical novel “Journey to the West.” Public domain.