Taiwan has a rich history of performing arts, inherited from centuries of practice in mainland China. It is home to both contemporary dance, as well as traditional Chinese and aboriginal performances. One doesn't have to look far to find world-class performances. The National Concert Hall and National Theater are twin institutions in Taipei located near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The facilities host a full calendar of classical music, opera and theater performances. In addition, visitors can observe assorted performances throughout the island.
Audiences can absorb refined Chinese culture, well-known for its colorful costumes and sets, dramatic plots, arresting musical forms and enchanting librettos. The opera is performed entirely in the Chinese language. Visitor's enjoyment will increase by understanding the storyline beforehand. A great place to experience Chinese opera is at the Fu Hsing Dramatic Arts Academy in Taipei, which offers an enlightening tour and a screen beside the stage which translates every song into English.
Taiwanese opera is a crystallization of Taiwan's popular culture and the only extent of traditional Chinese opera. The documentary evidence shows that Taiwanese Opera was originally performed in the Lan-Yang Plain about a hundred years ago. At first it was a small-scale performance of singing and dancing. With later additions of elaborate costumes and various characters, it gradually evolved into a genuine dramatic art form that eventually became the major form of drama in Taiwan.
Young girls dance with shimmering fans which resemble peacock feathers. The peacock is a Chinese symbol of beauty, and the dance expresses a respect for life and peace. The world-renown Lan Yang Dance Troup can be found in Taipei and Lotung.
Puppetry has been a source of Chinese entertainment for centuries. Finely made puppets, elaborate stages, detailed costumes, classic story lines and high-paced action can be easily found during festivals and celebrations throughout the island.
The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre is famed for its fusion of Chinese traditions, Taiwanese folk influences and modern dance.
Aboriginal Cultural Performances
Twelve aborigine tribes survive in Taiwan today. Each uniquely demonstrates a reverence for heaven, earth and spirits through ritual, song, dance, festivals and competitions.