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Bian Tianxia: Yi Wei Zhongguo Gucai Xifa Yanyuan— Fang Yinting De Yishu Shengya Yu Zhongguo Minjian Xifa De Weilai Fazhan Fangxiang
Stellato, Christopher T.

2010, Master of Arts, Ohio State University, East Asian Languages and Literatures.
Traditional Chinese magic, xifa, is a form of folk acrobatics distinct to China. From the time of the late Qing dynasty until the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, xifa performers gathered at large, open-air vaudevillian style performance venues, such as Beijing’s Tianqiao and Tianjin’s Sanbuguan, to perform for wandering spectators. At that time, xifa performers were amongst the poorest and most marginalized groups in Chinese society. After the founding of the PRC, the socio-economic status of folk performers’ was elevated as they assumed their new role as ‘The People’s Artists’. The government established performance troupes, joining together artists from various folk traditions, to perform for the ‘new’ proletariat class. Few students, however, were willing or able to undertake a career as a xifa performer due to the various movements to suppress folk performance arts during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) compounded with China’s economic reform beginning in the late 1970’s.
As a result of this rapid political, economic, and social development experienced in China over the last sixty years, only a handful of xifa performers remain. Through an investigation of the life and work of Fang Yinting, one of the few living masters of the xifa tradition, the follow issues will be addressed: What is xifa? What are the various styles of xifa? How does xifa differ from modern magic? How has xifa been transmitted from one generation to the next? What historical, social, and political conditions caused xifa to arrive at its current state? From this point forward, how can xifa performers develop, innovate, and transmit the tradition to ensure its future existence? I argue that the rigid master-apprentice form of transmission, the grueling nature of the xifa apprenticeship, xifa performers’ conservative mindset, the lack of innovation in performances along with major social, economic, and technological developments in China, have all contributed to the decline of this traditional art form. Without significant reform within the tradition, xifa will surely become extinct.
Galal Walker, PhD (Advisor)
Jianqi Wang, PhD (Committee Member)
51 p.

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Stellato, C. (2010). Bian Tianxia: Yi Wei Zhongguo Gucai Xifa Yanyuan— Fang Yinting De Yishu Shengya Yu Zhongguo Minjian Xifa De Weilai Fazhan Fangxiang. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Stellato, Christopher. "Bian Tianxia: Yi Wei Zhongguo Gucai Xifa Yanyuan— Fang Yinting De Yishu Shengya Yu Zhongguo Minjian Xifa De Weilai Fazhan Fangxiang." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2010. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 23 Sep 2017.

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Stellato, Christopher "Bian Tianxia: Yi Wei Zhongguo Gucai Xifa Yanyuan— Fang Yinting De Yishu Shengya Yu Zhongguo Minjian Xifa De Weilai Fazhan Fangxiang." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2010. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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