Liu Yu: A Young artist who inherits the legacy of Chinese culture

In the spring of 2021, CHUANG 2021, a Chinese idol survival show produced by Tencent, came to the public’s attention. It focused on the international cultural exchanges and communications among 90 contestants from all over the world and aimed to form a boy group of 11 Chinese and foreign members. Liu Yu, a Chinese trainee with a unique oriental cultural temperament and a solid foundation of traditional Chinese dance, stood out in the crowd and won No.1 in this program, thereby became the center and the leader of the group. Since then, this young artist and dancer has entered the public eye on an international scale.

Liu Yu is a Chinese culture inheritor born in XuanCheng, Anhui Province, China. XuanCheng is known for its rich history and culture. There are the Four Treasures of the Study, Hui culture, poetry culture, folklore, food culture, religious culture and Clan culture coexisting and prospering in the territory. It is also known as “the birthplace of ancient poets” and “the best cultural city in the Upper Yangtze River Region’’. Influenced by his growing environment and family upbringing, Liu Yu was very fond of local culture at a young age and started to pursue Folk dance and Chinese classical dance training with his father. With an enormous amount of efforts and training, he grasped a wider range of technical dance skills such as spinning, lifting, double flying swallow (jumping to split legs at 180 degrees in the air), etc. He always pushed himself to jump higher and dance more beautifully and elegantly. 

Towards Liu Yu’s art school graduation in 2017, he wanted to challenge himself with a Chinese classical dance work. He watched a dance performed by his school seniors called ‘a Lifetime in the Pear Garden’ (refer to the Operatic Circle of Beijing Opera) and decided to film a derivative short video demonstrating the Beijing Opera Makeup and Dress-up on Douyin (Chinese Tik Tok). This video reached 2.5 million views which encouraged Liu Yu to continue his journey on learning Chinese culture.

In 2018, Liu Yu chose to participate in the Chinese cultural variety program ‘The Chinese Youth’. He won the second place with his extensive dance skills and perfect stage performances embedded with traditional Chinese style and cultural elements. Apart from his dancing, his vocal talent was also recognized by the audience especially in his work called ‘I, I’. It was a 2-man ‘puppet dance performance’ telling the struggling life story of Li Yu, the emperor of the Southern Tang Dynasty. During the performance, the back-and-forth changes between the props of the yellow robe and the white plain clothing metaphorically expressed Emperor Li Yu’s involuntary life. The cross-over between Liu Yu’s delicate and gentle voice and his Beijing Opera singing element demonstrated a perfect balance of hardness and softness, channelled the audience through the ups and downs of the story plot and the emotions.

In December 2019, Liu Yu was awarded the title of the “Ambassador of Sino Italian Culture Promotion” at the “World Dream Comes True” Sino Italian cultural grand ceremony. Mr. Federico Adolfo, the Director of the Historical and Cultural Center of Venice City Hall, presented the award. In the Sino Italian Cultural Festival, Liu Yu dazzled the stage with his traditional Chinese dance in a simplistic and stylish Hanfu designed by Gaia Legend. His temperament and manners were graceful and refined as if he was a young scholar from ancient China. Liu Yu’s elegant and out-of-the-world dance, the Chinese song named ‘the Misty Rain’, the interweaving ink and white elements on the Hanfu, the long skirt floating with the wind illustrated the perfect and extraordinary integration of Chinese dance, music, fashion and culture in front of the Italian audience.

Liu Yu’s previous encounter with the dance work ‘a Lifetime in the Pear Garden’ pushed him to make an important decision embark on a new journey of learning Beijing Opera. In 2021, He sang ‘Ode to Ewha’ on the CCTV (China central Television) stage as a promoter of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Filigree Inlaid Metal Art. In preparation, he took a class with Ms. Wang Mengting, the successor of the Xun School of Beijing Opera. This was only a beginning for Liu Yu and he knew that he still had a long way to go.

Beijing Opera is one of the quintessence of Chinese culture and the most influential type of opera in China. Since the 55th year of Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1790), four Hui troupes, including Sanqing, Sixi, Chuntai and Hechun, which were originally performed in the South and mainly composed of Anhui artists, have successively entered Beijing, cooperated with Han Opera artists from Hubei province, and accepted some operas, tunes and performance methods of Kunqu Opera and Qin Opera. It also absorbed some local folk tunes, and finally formed Beijing Opera through continuous exchanges and integration. Beijing Opera has a set of standardized artistic forms in Chinese literature, performance, music, stage art and other aspects. With historical stories as the main performance content, it has a wide influence and is known as China’s “National Opera”. The Beijing opera performance system named after Mei Lanfang is regarded as the representative of the Oriental drama performance system and one of the three major performance systems in the world. The process of learning opera was very difficult for Liu Yu because he must step out of his comfort zone. As he became more knowledgeable in opera study, he realized that many dance forms he learnt in the past were evolved from opera.

Later, on April 19, 2020, Liu Yu released his solo song “Dream of the Stars”. Soon after on September 25 the same year, he released another solo song “Freedom”. After Liu Yu’s Debut from CHUANG 2021, he released a solo EP of two songs, “Lancet” and “Vernacular”, which represented the two opposite sides of himself as a person. 

It has been a long and tough process of continuous learning and passing on the legacy of Chinese culture both for himself and for his fans of the young generation. Fortunately, Liu Yu is grateful that many people have fallen in love with Chinese culture, dance and traditional musical instruments spontaneously because of his influence and promotion. Many fans even set up a Weibo account called ‘’Learn some traditional cultural knowledge’ to gather knowledge and information, intersperse Liu Yu’s dance pictures, gatherof Some local fans even set up an account called “learning some traditional cultural knowledge”, to gather information and expand knowledge base, insert Liu Yu’s dance moves and performances, play his songs with traditional string instruments such as Guzheng and Erhu, as well as promoting Hanfu and other traditional costumes. Beside local fans, many oversea fans also become interested in Chinese culture and China as a country.

The core of cultural inheritance lies within the people. The world will be a better place if generations after generations of people can join the crowd and enrich our culture and civilization.

August 24, 2022 is Liu Yu’s 22nd birthday. Not only does it mark a new beginning of his career, it also carries our hopes for this young rising star, idol and artist. Let us witness him keep learning and working hard, remain persistent and true to his heart and aspirations and accompany us further down the road of Chinese culture inheritance.

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Company Name: Beijing Yumeng times Culture Communication Co., Ltd
Contact Person: LEI XIE
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City: Beijing
Country: China