“Transvestism, Minorities Orientalism, and Sadism in China’s Dance Drama”

My original title for this piece was

“The Role of Color-coding in Chinese Ballet:
Girlgirls: Red, White, Blue and Green;
Girlboys: Feldgrau;
Gangsters: Black and
The Colors of Chinese Dance Old and New”

A string of words both too long for a lead-in but also too short for me to clarify “Girlgirls” and(vs) Girlboys (the decodes are “slave-women” and “army-enlisted ex-slaves), though a propos because as we shall see, color-coding of ensemble dance numbers’ sub-ensembles turns out to be the principle device for establishing caste and hierarchy, both as a positive (CCP/Army leadership) and as a negative (gangster-plutocracy), wherein membership and subordination are coded (allegorized) into the narrative. Revolutionary politics on stage (whether dynastic – 1688 – or parliamentary) is still and was always “about” color and the reverse. An indeed has been so for a very long time: Orange vs Green (Ireland, derived from the Netherlands Orange); Red (and blue) versus (fleur-de-lys) white in France; Dark blue vs Grey (butternut) in the WBS, Red vs White in the Russian Revolution, and the modal Italian Orange (Red) white- Green tricolore, a French replay in turn quoted almost anywhere that a new state (or dynasty) had been created after ca 1800. The Chinese canvas is even more cluttered: around the centering gray or brown (leadership class ceremonial mufti before Jiang Zemin) one finds a crazy quilt of borderland (quasi-imperialized) “tribal” hues: Tibetan saffron, Korean white/red, etc). Nations or those who contest their dominance always carry their colors raised high on a pole
raised high.

1 thought on ““Transvestism, Minorities Orientalism, and Sadism in China’s Dance Drama”

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