Photographs by April Liu, 2016
Rosa Cheng, Zi Ying Xuan, Ivy Martin-Moore, Tracy Ma
Shuixiu can be translated literally to be water sleeves, which refers to a suit of skills to perform various movements with double white-silk sleeves attached to the cuffs of a costume. It is one of the most skillful stunts in Chinese opera and its function is to exaggerate actors’ mood. Totally there are about hundreds of gesticulations in shuixiu, such as sleeves quivering, throwing, wigwagging, casting, raising, swinging, tossing, whisking, rolling, folding, crossing and so on.
Besides, the functions of water sleeves are as many as their gesticulations. For example, the sleeves wigwagging in front of face means a fun; one hand pulling another water sleeve sidewards indicates politeness or bowing; sadness and shyness are expressed by one hand pulling another water sleeve to cover the face; wiping tears and whisking dirt on costumes by water sleeves; raising and put up two persons’ water sleeves to embrace each other; water sleeves also indicates the music band when the singing performance starts.