July 30, 2005


Bright lights beckon China's young (Jim Yardley, JULY 30, 2005, The New York Times)

Dai Yichen is in the third row, far right side, her feet kicking and scraping against the wood floor with other students in her tap dance class. The rehearsal hall fills with a noise as pounding and repetitive as a hailstorm.

Yichen is lanky and a little awkward. She sidesteps and thrusts her shoulder in a suggestive move that no one in the class gets quite right.

But she keeps trying. As the teacher calls forward different lines of dancers, Yichen stands off to the side, practicing her footwork. She watches herself, unsmiling, in a floor-to-ceiling mirror that betrays every stumble.

Her dream is to perform one day on a Chinese equivalent of Broadway, though one does not yet exist. Yichen, 17, is one of 30 students at a private fine arts school on the outskirts of Beijing who are far removed from the days when Mao demanded that culture serve the Communist Party: They are studying how to perform in American-style musicals, an academic major about as improbable as one in which American teenagers would dedicate themselves to the Peking Opera.

It is an example of the changes engulfing China that a teenager like Yichen has been far more influenced by the musical "Cats" than by the Communist Youth League.

That's a fortunate thing with so many excess young men.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 30, 2005 7:33 AM

Chinese 'Broad'-way?

It's Reign-ing Men.

Posted by: Noel at July 30, 2005 9:20 AM