People often describe the annually national college entrance examination (NCEE) as thousands of militants crossing a single-log bridge, from which one can almost imagine how many students fall off just because of the path being too difficult. While the whole army is marching, a little platoon consist of music students, art students, performance students etc takes a byroad to get to the same destination – university.
As artistic talented students, they enjoy discounts in examinations of liberal arts and sciences subjects , by keeping scores above the bottom line, they can just sing, paint, or dance their way into universities with outstanding talents. However, the platoon become overstaffed
these years perhaps because Chinese families are placing more emphasis on talent nurturing, or simply just because it is easier to get admitted. Anyway artistic talented students are getting more competitors every year, and prestige artistic colleges only offer slit for the sea of knockers: Beijing Film Academy (北京电影学院) has 98% culling rate for acting major applicants. It released the list for third tryout of acting department on March 8th, leaving only 532 out of 13668 applicants further chances for the next round. The next day, Xinghai Conservatory of Music (星海音乐学院) kicked off its 3-day preliminary tryouts for its pop music department, 800 students show up for only 90 places. Communication University of China (中国传媒大学) increased its enrollment for broadcasting majors to 686 this year and received 18,000 applications. Dancing Department of Minzu University of China (中央民族大学) will reject 92% applicants. And Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (广州美术学院) is in grading phase on March 10th with 4% acceptance rate.
To take a closer look, reporters of Guangzhou Daily visit some of the popular artistic universities.
Beijing Film Academy：
The acting department of Beijing Film Academy is well- known for its high reject rate – 4234 students vie for 75 places this year. According to the list released on March 8th, its first two tryouts have sent 3702 applicants home, leaving 532 for the third tryout from 9th to 14th.
A pair of girl twins was disappointed not seeing their names on the list, they said they came a long way from Chongqing City out of longing for the stage in Beijing. But they remain positive: “we’ll be here next year. There is a saying, ‘heart will not die until it hits the south wall’, our south wall is set at 30 years old, we will try something else if we still aren’t actresses at 30.”
Xiao Zhou from Jiangxi Province has the same persistence for becoming a star: “I want to be a star like Sun Li (孙俪), she start as a dancing student, so do I. My parents spare no pains to support me, they spent tens of thousands yuan for my classes, as well as my train ticket and hotel expenses. I know we are not rich, though they never mention anything to me.” She also said the interviewers are quite pleased with her ballet, and that she stood a better chance in figure.
However, netizen “Junjie” as an old hand warned those candidates from obsessing with pretty face and perfect body shape. He said: “you have to distinguish yourself in front of the interviewers, who can tell whether you have acting potential by minutes. Creativity, imagination and feeling for acting are what they most concern about rather than pretty face or body figure. Don’t try too hard or too harsh, just show them your acting potential and uniqueness.”
Child stars Yang Zi (left) and Zhang Yishan (right) from the famous sit-com “Don’t miss Home With Kids(家有儿女)” both made it to the third tryout for acting major of Beijing Film Academy. Yang Zi quitted all her acting works in order to focus on training of dancing, figure, acting, lines etc. She said: “I won’t regret as long as I try.”
There are 3 conditions for candidates, according to Long Jun Jie, instructor of Shanghai Theatre Academy. First, man must look like a man, and woman must look like a woman; second, candidate must present healthy impression; and third, their air must match Chinese mainstream cultural value, which means boy with piercings, girl with heavy makeup, tattoo, fluffy hair or odd dressing are not welcomed in tryouts.
Among these dreams chasers, some have years of experiences for tryouts, some decide to try once for all. Xiao Xue’s from An Hui Province who said she won’t try again if fail this year: “I always have a star dream in mind, so I sign up as everybody does. My mother and I started our tryout rush since January. I never thought it would be so tired and difficult. Apart from tryout fees, my training, cosmetics, and costumes are costing us a fortune. We have spent too much on this dream.”
Mr. Zhang of Beijing Film Academy suggests that art is expensive, candidates must be reasonable if they are not economically sufficient; and natural gift is very important in acting industry, parents should not view it as a shortcut for university.
Xinghai Conservatory of Music:
Xinghai Conservatory of Music attracts 800 applicants for its 90 places in pop music department, which doesn’t exist in Central Conservatory of Music (中央音乐学院) or Shanghai Conservatory of Music (上海音乐学院).
“This is the second year I apply for Xinghai.” Said Y, a Zhejiang boy who also signed up for tryouts of Music colleges in Xi’an and Shenyang, he failed Xinghai last year by 2.5 points. Y spent over 90,000 yuan last year for training stuffs, hiring tutors, renting apartment etc, and 60-70 thousand yuan by far this year. He is under great pressure since he has quite full an examination schedule: on March 6th he finished exam in Shenyang and went back to Guangzhou for another exam on 9th, then on 10th morning he flew to Zhejiang for another one, which would release the names for next round on 12th, if his name’s on it, he will be there on 16th again.
Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts:
The university planned to enroll 1,225 students, but received 30,000 applications, approximately 1 out of 25 students will be admitted.
How does the college grade such a huge amount of paintings? One easy and visual way is to place them sheet by sheet on the floor of gymnasium, while teachers go over them, discussing and grading.
According Professor Wu, majors like Chinese painting, oil painting, engraving and sculpture are cooling down as students and parents turn to more practical majors like animation and design for they are easier to learn and land a job in the future. However, there are only 30 places available for animation major, 15 less than Chinese painting and sculpture, and 10 less than oil painting major.
Professor Wu suggests that art demand gift just as music and acting do, learning method, artistic potential and sensitivity are far more significant than pure interest. Some parents switch target to art college just as soon as they realize that their kids are doing too bad in normal subjects. They stand little chance unless the kids are so talented that they acquire art soon enough to pass all the examinations and tryouts.