First post of the “Xiong Mingxia – Jin Xiquan Weekend”.
Xiong Mingxia (熊明霞), first-class huadan actress of Shanghai Jingju Troupe was born on January 15, 1976 in Yichang, Hubei.
Her parents were Beijing opera fans, thus they had drawers full of opera records at home, no wonder the little girl decided to learn Beijing opera at the age of 12.
Since she had a suitable voice, Xiong Mingxia was trained for qingyi role as a child, but she refused to accept this as final choice. She didn’t want to sing only literati roles like Cui Yingying and Dou E, but also acrobatic and military roles like Hua Mulan or Liang Hongyu, and she was shilly-shallying at the practice hall all day long.
In 1989, she learned her first standard play, Farewell my Concubine from Sun Ronghui, and The Broken Bridge from Li Rongwei (李荣威) in the second semester. Learning the daomadan role of Mu Guiying from Li Shufang was a crucial point in her art career. The school didn’t have a military drama department at those times; Li Shufang let Xiong Mingxia to put on the dakao (full military costume with the four flags), practicing the spear tricks over and over again. For this role, she got the Peach and Plum Cup (桃李杯), a provincial award of art schools.
Xiong Mingxia graduated from the Hubei Art Academy in 1993, and joined the Yichang Beijing Opera Theater, but was longing to enter herself for an examination at The National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts.
It was a real challenge, but she was very confident. She barely took ten extra literature and language lessons, yet was the first to answer the exam questions and left the exam room. She came out with such a self-confident smile, that her family members thought: “Our daughter surely got extremely good grades!”
The unexpectedly good results surprised Xiong Mingxia herself, since she was barely familiar with the 26 letters of the English alphabet. “It surely was the Will of Heaven, I just had to walk on the path of Beijing opera art!”, she said.
Studying in the Fourth Class of Outstanding Young Jingju Performers, she finally got really wide-ranging and deep education, learning from great teachers like Bai Yuling, Chen Qi,Yu Yuheng and Liu Xiurong.
Xiong Mingxia entered the Shanghai Jingju Troupe in 1998 as a rookie, and very soon she was allowed the perform in a new historical play, Cao Cao and Yang Xiu. Later she could show her real natural talents in a leading production of the theater, Pansidong (盘丝洞). After this, the company leadership decided that Xiong Mingxia should change profession, and she started to work as huadan since then. She became the student of famous artists Song Changrong (宋长荣) and Sun Yumin (孙毓敏), both direct disciples of Xun Huisheng (荀慧生), learning the plays Hong Niang and Douzhiji.
In the Nationwide Youth Beijing Opera Actors Great TV Competition she got outstanding performance award for Hong Niang in 2001, same year she won second prize in the National Competition of Outstanding Young Jingju Performers. In 2005 she scored the first prize in CCTV’s National TV Contest of Middle-aged Jingju Performers.
From 2002 she was cooperating frequently with Jin Xiquan in plays like Romance of the West Chamber, Lü Bu and Diaochan, Yu Tangchun, no surprise they finally got married in December 24, 2005, and they make a harmonious couple since then.
On August 24, 2007 Xiong Mingxia gave birth to a little girl. Jin Xiquan was afraid that Mingxia will get worn out if staying up all night, also worried that her fine hands will be ruined while doing housework, so he took up the duty of late night childcare, feeding and diapering the baby, moreover he mastered the skills of washing laundry, patching clothes and cooking meals.
Xiong Mingxia’s mother-in-law, seeing the affectionate attitude of her husband, couldn’t resist to say with a sigh: “It happened so fast, yesterday Xiquan was just a child in our eyes, and today he’s acting like a father… For so many years, I haven’t seen this careful side of him!”
On this picture, during a performance of Qipanshan Jin Xiquan is examining the headdress of her wife again and again to fit perfectly:
Xiong Mingxia is a very lucky woman indeed.
Sources: Shui Guniang’s blog, Hudong Wiki
Photo: Stage and backstage photos from Qi Pan Shan, commemorating Xun Huisheng’s 110th birthday anniversary. (2010, Tianjin)