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Dashan - ‘The Most Famous Foreigner in China’


Dashan - ‘The Most Famous Foreigner in China’

Dashan (Mark Rowswell) is 'the most famous foreigner in China'

Image © Dashan

Canadian Mark Rowswell, better known as Dashan (大山), is a performer and television host who rose to fame after performing in fluent Mandarin in a comedic skit on Chinese television.

Name: Mark Rowswell (Dashan)

Gender: Male

Shows: Communicate in Chinese, Travel in Chinese, Sports Chinese

Genre: Educational

Language: Chinese (Mandarin) and English

Who Is Dashan?:

Dashan is the stage name for Mark Rowswell, who appears regularly on Chinese television shows and commercials. Dashan first appeared on mainland television in 1988 as a host for a singing competition. The next month, he appeared on China Central Television’s (CCTV) New Year’s Gala (春节联欢晚会), an annual variety program to celebrate the New Year that is the most watched show in China. His appearance performing Ye gui (夜归), a xiangsheng (相聲) skit in Mandarin on that show made him a star overnight.

Xiangsheng, or crosstalk, is a popular form of Chinese comedic dialogue. Dashan’s Chinese name, which means ‘big mountain,’ comes from Dashan, the character he played in the xiangsheng skit during his first appearance on the CCTV New Year’s Gala.

Besides Comedy, Does Dashan Do Anything Else?:

Dashan has gone on to host English and Chinese language learning programs on CCTV International, including Communicate in Chinese, Travel in Chinese, and Sports Chinese. He played painter Giuseppe Castiglione in the television series Palace Artist on CCTV. His theater credits include Red Star Over China, a play based on the life of American journalist Edgar Snow, and Le diner de cons (The Dinner Game), a French comedy.

In addition to acting, Dashan has also starred in several ad campaigns for various products including Ford cars and pocket translators. He served as Commissioner General for Canada at Expo 2010 Shanghai. Dashan devotes much of his time to serving as a cultural ambassador between China and the West and working with charity organizations.

Where Can Dashan Be Seen?:

For many outside China, their first glimpse of Dashan came during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in which Dashan was a torch bearer. But he has regularly appeared on television shows, commercials and stage plays in China for nearly 20 years. Dashan hosts Sports Chinese, a 15-minute Chinese lesson focused on sports on CCTV International (CCTV-9). Many of his television appearances can be seen on the following websites:

Why You Should Know Dashan::

While relatively unknown in the West, Dashan has been called ‘the most famous foreigner in China.’ He is one of the country’s most famous television celebrities. He has earned many awards, including the White Magnolia Award for Best Supporting Actor for the stage adaptation of the French comedy Le Diner de Cons. The White Magnolia Award is one of China’s most prestigious performing arts awards.

Dashan’s Life::

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Dashan studied Chinese and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Studies at the University of Toronto and continued studying Mandarin at Beijing University. While studying in Beijing, Dashan became interested in Chinese performing arts. After his initial appearance on Chinese television, Dashan has continued to stay in the public eye.
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