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A Chinese Ball

Chinese balls are a lavish affair

A true Chinese ball is full of amazing dance performances that are quite the spectacle. From Chinese Opera, to sleeve dances, to cross-dressing nandan, seize the chance to witness one if given the opportunity. In many cases the true opulence becomes ever so apparent when attending a lavish formal party for officials or billionaires with deep pockets. Traditions are alive and well even in the modern age, but certainly at a huge expense.

In traditional Chinese opera, cross-dressing is common practice, with male actors performing female roles and vice versa. Theatrical cross-dressing has roots in the restrictive gender norms of imperial Chinese society.

Imagine the parties throughout history within the confines of the huge Forbidden City, the seats of emperors and empresses, the dozens of palaces spread across the sprawling grounds.

The Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1911, witnessed the rise of Peking opera, now considered a high watermark of Chinese culture. uch actors became known as nandan, where nan means “Male” and dan refers to traditionally female theatrical roles. Nandan remain the most valorized roles in Peking opera.

Each of the five traditional opera roles, or jiaose, carries corresponding traits, including gender, identity, and temperament. Chinese opera, like all art, is a way of reflecting our own desires back at us.

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