In 1952, the Central Song and Dance Company was established, which hired Soviet ballet dancers to teach ballet. 1959, the Central Ballet was established and rehearsed the ballet Swan Lake with the help of Soviet experts, with the female lead played by Bai Shuxiang and Liu Qingtang, the first generation of Chinese ballerinas Liu Qingtang was selected to play the role of the prince. Their fates changed, especially after the Cultural Revolution.
Bai Shuxiang cleans toilets and her father is killed
Born in Hunan in 1939, Bai Shuxiang showed a talent for dance as a teenager. In 1952, she joined the children’s troupe of the Northeast People’s Art Theatre and performed with the “Consolation Mission to North Korea” in the following year; in 1954, she entered the Beijing Dance Academy to study ballet; in 1959, when the Central Ballet was established, Bai Shuxiang became one of the first major performers and the first star of Chinese ballet, starring in Swan Lake In 1959, when the Central Ballet was established, Bai became the first major actress and the first star of Chinese ballet, starring in Swan Lake. She also successfully portrayed various stage characters, such as Midora, the heroine of The Sea Man, Myrda, the ghost king in Giselle, and Zarema, the royal princess in The Fountain of Tears.
Bai Shuxiang’s success also gave her the opportunity to enter Zhongnanhai and perform for Mao and other Chinese Communist leaders. Once after performing the ballet “The Four Little Swans” for Mao, she even invited to dance with him.
In 1964, when Jiang Qing began to take an interest in ballet, Bai Shuxiang was again the first to be chosen to appear as Wu Qionghua, the female lead in the historically falsified red modern ballet The Red Army of the Maiden (hereafter referred to as “Red”). She took military training for this, learning to lie down, kneel, stand, shoot, etc. Before “Red” was staged, ballet was only an “imported product” in the minds of Chinese audiences, but “Red”, a ballet with a strong revolutionary meaning, changed people’s perceptions.
As she was preparing for her new stage persona, Bai Shuxiang was characterized in 1965 as a typical figure who followed the “White Specialized Line”. The so-called “white professional line” refers to the professional and technical work only, resist political activities, do not participate in political Life. From then on, at the age of 26, Bai Shuxiang was forbidden to take part in performances. The next year, the Cultural Revolution broke out, and she was forbidden to even practice, and was taken out of the ballet company and repeatedly criticized. During this period, in addition to being repeatedly criticized and asked to give an account of her problems, she had to do menial work such as sweeping toilets, sweeping floors and digging holes in the ground during the day.
In 1969, Baishu Xiang was sent to work at the Xiaotangshan Cadre School in Changping District, Beijing, and was kept away from her beloved ballet until 1974. At that Time, due to the serious damage done to the Central Ballet by the Cultural Revolution, no one was available in the company. 34-year-old Bai Shuxiang was recalled as a main actress and reprised her role in Swan Lake and added Sylvia to the repertoire, but her performances were still subject to many restrictions. By this time, for her, the golden age of ballerinas had long passed.
Only after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1978, when she was “rehabilitated” by the Chinese Communist Party, did she gain more freedom and did not officially leave the ballet stage until 1989, when she was 50 years old.
Sadly, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Bai’s father, Bai Chunyi, was executed by the Communist government for allegedly signing off on the murder of several Communist Party members. As it turns out, Bai Chunyi was an officer in the Nationalist government and a subordinate of General Zhang Xueliang, and a lawyer before he joined the army. Shortly after his birth, his mother died and his father took the Family to Nanjing, where he worked as a civilian in the Nationalist government. After The Japanese occupied Nanking, Bai Chunyi took the family to Chongqing. Before the Chinese Communists captured Chongqing, he could have flown to Taiwan but chose to stay and went to teach law at Northeastern University. However, he did not escape the Cultural Revolution after all. Bai Shuxiang and her sister, who was also a dancer, were implicated as a result.
But it is sad that Bai Shuxiang, whose father was shot by the CCP and who missed out on the most precious years of her artistic life, once again sang the praises of the CCP after being “rehabilitated”, saying, “Our artistic life is now guaranteed, and we have been reborn”. What kind of sadness is this?
Liu Qingtang, whose soul was thrown into hell
Unlike Bai Shuxiang, who was criticized during the Cultural Revolution and whose father died in a tragic way, Liu Qingtang took the path of “throwing his soul into hell” during the Cultural Revolution and eventually ate the consequences himself.
Born in Liaoning in 1932, Liu Qingtang enrolled in the Baishan Art School, the first art school founded by the Chinese Communist Party in the northeast, at the age of 16, and began her dancing career in 1951, when her dance program won an award in Berlin and Liu Qingtang and other performers were retained in Beijing. Liu Qingtang became a folk dancer of the troupe. In 1956, at the age of 24, he went to the Soviet Union to start his ballet studies.
In 1959, after the establishment of the Central Ballet, Liu Qingtang became the performer of the Prince in the ballet Swan Lake. With the success of Swan Lake, flowers, applause and honors followed. Since then, Liu Qingtang and Bai Shuxiang have danced together in dances such as “Sea Man” and “Fountain of Tears”.
In the eyes of many people, Liu Qingtang and Bai Shuxiang were a good pair, but as Bai Shuxiang’s fame grew, Liu Qingtang’s heart rippled when people focused more on Bai Shuxiang. Some insiders at the time pointed out, “Liu Qingtang’s temperament is not like a prince, but like a warrior ……”, which probably also laid the groundwork for what happened later.
In 1964, the red modern ballet “The Red Army” was rehearsed, with the female lead, Wu Qionghua, played by Bai Shuxiang, and the male lead, Hong Changqing, a Communist Party representative, played by Liu Qingtang. After watching the performance, Mao said, “The direction is correct, the revolution is successful, and the art is good”. This set the tone. Red” became a revolutionary model play, and Jiang Qing designated it as “a battle flag in the world of ballet”. Liu Qingtang was also highly favored by Jiang Qing.
After the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Liu Qingtang’s “revolutionary spirit” was particularly strong. He set up a new Revolutionary Committee and became the director and secretary of the party branch. Many people gathered under him and launched a fierce attack on the “cattle and snakes” and “capitalists” in the Central Song and Dance Company and the Central Ballet, turning the ballet into a miserable hell on earth. The ballet became a miserable hell on earth. Bai Shuxiang was taken out of the criticism, and Li Guozhuen, the 52-year-old vice-president and chief conductor of the Central Opera and Dance Theatre, also hanged himself at Home after a criticism session hosted by Liu Qingtang, because he could not bear the false accusation and humiliation of his character.
On November 28, 1966, when the “Capital Literary and Artistic Conference” was held at the Great Hall of the People, Jiang Qing named Liu Qingtang to be on the podium of the conference, but he was not able to do so due to the resistance of the masses. Immediately after the meeting, Jiang Qing sent someone to comfort Liu Qingtang: “Not letting you on the podium does not mean that the leaders have any political opinion of you, so I hope you will not feel any pressure.”
With Jiang Qing’s backing, Liu Qingtang’s bottom line was even stronger. He continued to write letters of allegiance to Jiang Qing, thus gaining more appreciation. He was the head of the ballet troupe in July, after Jiang Qing approved him.
The new leader, Liu Qingtang, once again began to make people mad. He put the so-called “shelling the proletarian command”, “opposing the Cultural Revolution”, “attacking Jiang Qing” and other charges on people’s heads at will. Of the 240 people in the regiment, more than 70 were branded as counter-revolutionaries. Everyone in the regiment was in danger, and it was difficult to protect themselves. Around 1970, Liu Qingtang presided over a “purge” campaign in the literary and artistic circles, and as many as 400 people in the literary and artistic groups directly under the Central Government were branded as “5.16” elements.
In April 1969, Jiang Qing nominated Liu Qingtang as a delegate to the Ninth Party Congress and a member of its presidium. “In 1974, he was elected as a member of the Central Committee at the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party of China; the following year, he became the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Culture.
The following year, he became the vice minister of the Ministry of Culture. Liu Qingtang, who was soaring in politics, was also a flirt in life and used his power to have promiscuous relationships with men and women. Any actress, whether she wanted to play the lead role in a play or lead a dance, or to get her husband an account or a job, could become his plaything if she asked him. However, the letters of accusation against him all sank into the sea and did not affect his career in any way. Liu Qingtang became more devoted to Jiang Qing and was called Jiang Qing’s “loyal soldier”.
In September 1975, Jiang Qing called a secret gathering of his cronies. At the meeting, Jiang Qing told Liu Qingtang, “Deng Xiaoping is the general manager and chairman of the rumor company …… Now it is like the eve of the 1957 anti-right, now tell them to make a big noise and then clean up in the future.” Adhering to Jiang Qing’s will, Liu Qingtang then created public opinion at meetings of the ballet troupe and the heads of the troupes belonging to the Art Bureau of the Ministry of Culture to prepare public opinion for the creation of new unrest. After that, he repeatedly made black materials of Deng Xiaoping.
In January 1976, Liu Qingtang held successive meetings at the Ministry of Culture, piecing together Deng Xiaoping’s “eight sins against the Ministry of Culture and seven sins against the literary revolution”, and compiling them into the Ministry of Culture’s file No. 1 of 1976. From February, Liu Qingtang also followed the orders of Jiang Qing and Zhang Chunqiao and held a meeting with the heads of the national film studios, inciting them to “write works that fight against the capitalists” and “take out plays for use as cannonballs”, and threatening: “Dare to write works that fight against the capitalists? Daring to write plays that struggle against the capitalists is a matter of line and position.” In March, he personally commanded the ballet troupe to produce the dance drama “Battle Hymn of Youth”, which was a “layered seizure of Deng Xiaoping’s agents”.
After the end of the Cultural Revolution, Liu Qingtang was detained and put on public trial in April 1983, where he was sentenced to 17 years in prison and deprived of his political rights for four years, despite his best efforts to exonerate himself. It is said that during the trial, all those who had been persecuted by him in the literary and artistic circles were given passes to attend the trial, and the “hardest-hit” ballet company had to assign a special bus to transport everyone to attend the trial every day. After the verdict, his wife Xu Jie, who had been hurt by Liu Qingtang many times, divorced him, and his three children also separated from him.
In the spring of 1986, Liu Qingtang was granted medical parole because he was suffering from esophageal varices. He then abandoned Sha Yin, a kind woman who had taken care of him for years, in favor of marrying a more capable woman and opening a dance school. His ex-wife Xu Jie had this to say about Liu Qingtang: “His heart, his soul are thrown into hell, he will not be at peace until he dies; he is a genie, dancing around in creation and deception, shining with dazzling light, but he has fallen into hell. If he can save himself, let him save himself!”
After the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese traditional culture, including Chinese dance, has been destroyed through rounds of campaigns, and countless artists who inherited the traditional cultural lineage have been persecuted, even the red “artists” they cultivated, and Bai Shuxiang is one of them. In the process, the Chinese Communist Party brought the “evil” in human nature to the extreme, turning some actors from messengers of art into murderers and eventually imprisoning them, as represented by Liu Qingtang. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Chinese Communist Party has really turned people into ghosts.