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Artists of Life

Posted on Mar 10, 2016 by in The OFI Blog |


The Wu Opera’s dragon dance troupe performs in People’s Park during the 2014 Folklife Festival. Photo by Walter Larrimore, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Former Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) Smithsonian Folkways intern Jing Li recently wrote about her experience of being the Program Coordinator for the 2014 Folklife Festival‘s feature on China: Tradition and the Art of Living.

After her time here interning at Folkways, Jing went back to China to manage theater at the China Performing Arts Agency for three years. Jing had promised herself that if the Folklife Festival ever featured China that she would find a way to get involved, which she did in 2014. As Program Coordinator, Jing traveled around China and interviewed different artists about the specifics of their crafts, like paper cutting, and they even interviewed village medicine men. Jing and her team then relayed back the information the DC to help them prepare for the Festival.

When the time for the festival came, Jing was able to view the proceedings through the eyes of someone who had experience with traditional forms of theatre. She delighted in the unpredictable liveness that the performers exhibited. They were not beholden to a script or a producer, but to themselves. She writes, “Theaters provide a stage for artists of profession, and the Folklife Festival for artists of life.”

To read more about Jing Li’s experience with the Folklife Festival read her blog on the CFCH website here.