Sun Ruihan (in costume) poses with her classmates after a Peking Opera performance at a school activity in September last year, in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Harbin girl overcomes disability to show great talent in the performance art.

Just two days after last month’s Spring Festival holiday, 10-year-old Sun Ruihan returned to class at a Peking Opera training institution for young learners in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province.

In the 100-square-meter training hall, she practiced the basic skills alongside her classmates. Her slightly crippled right leg made Sun, who was born with cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen, stand out from the others.

“When the doctor told me the diagnosis and the unknown consequences, even though she was saved, I did nothing but cry,” Sun’s mother, Zhang Jing, said. “Soon after putting away our sadness, my husband and I decided to save her and bring her up at all cost.”

Timely treatment at birth prevented Ruihan from having brain damage.

“We spent 200,000 yuan ($29,730) in the first two years after her birth, which was quite a large amount for our family, but I felt a little relieved when I knew that she could grow up with a normal level of intelligence,” Zhang, 43, said. “But due to high muscular tension, she was not able to walk on her own until the age of three.”

To help the girl recover her motor functions, her parents insisted on giving her regular treatments, including traditional Chinese medicine massage and physical therapy. However, she still walked with a limp.

“In the summer of 2015, a friend advised me to try the Peking Opera course, in which the physical training might help my daughter recover the use of her leg,” Zhang said. “Furthermore, we thought it would be a good chance for her to develop a specialty, so we brought her to the Peking Opera training institution near our home.”

Sun said: “I was only 6 years old at that time and knew nothing about Peking Opera, but I was pretty enthralled by the stage photos of the actresses displayed at the institution, in which they seemed so beautiful, with delicate makeup and colorful costumes. Therefore, I really wanted to learn at the institution.”

At first, the principal of the institution, Wang Xichen, refused to admit her.

“The little girl wasn’t able to walk normally, so I didn’t think she could learn Peking Opera, which involves lots of body movements,” the 30-year-old Peking Opera actor said.