Name: Nara Wang
Hometown: Chongqing, China
Year: CAS freshman
Dorm: Goddard residence hall
Act: Mask dance
What is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is my Face Changing teacher. I got a chance to watch his performance before I decided to learn. It was amazing, how an actor could change his face in a second and how traditional performance is combined within this art. I got a chance to talk to him and learned a lot of great culture inside this art. But my teacher initially didn’t take me as his student because I am a female. This art was protected a lot, especially for the female. Traditionally, females will marry so that they no longer stay in their family and if they carry this art, they will have the chance to reveal its secrets. But my passions and striving finally convinced my teacher and he took me as his only female student.
How long have you been performing and what made you interested in performing in the first place?
I have been performing for three years. My first performance was with my teacher for poor farmers in China. It was on a stage in a square near a train station, and it was a public show for every passerby to watch. I found out that this Chinese traditional art is not only for those who can pay money for a theater show, but also for everyone, even the poor. Face Changing is a part of Sichuan Opera and this art should be introduced to the public, even the world.
What made you decide to participate in the UVL Prelims?
Initially, I saw the flyer near the elevator and thought it is probably a talent show, just for fun. So I decided to participate because I hope to introduce this great Chinese traditional art to the world. Not until the mandatory meeting of UVL Prelim did I find out this was a competition. But my attitude is still the same, just to introduce this art to others.
What was the first thing that went through your mind when you found out you were advancing to the finals at Skirball?
My first thought was that it is unbelievable, because I am not a professional actress and I am not even from Tisch or Steinhardt. But I won the first prize in UVL Prelim and got the chance to perform at Skirball. It is also amazing and I am excited to finally have the chance to let more students, domestic students and international students learn about this Chinese traditional art. I also have the burden to develop it and introduce it as a successor of this art.
What would winning UVL mean to you?
Winning UVL means Chinese traditional art Face Changing is not outdated like some people say it is. Traditional art also has its merits and should be appreciated by modern people. And I always hope people nowadays could look back and inherit those fantastic art before they die.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 13 print edition. Bryna Shuman is features editor. Email her at email@example.com.