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I’ll let the Smithsonian Folklife website describe this extraordinary five-minute performance:

“The mysterious art of bian lian or face-changing originated in Sichuan Opera, and has long been a closely guarded secret of Chinese performers. Hu Dongxiao of the Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe performed the most complex style of face-changing at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, switching between colored masks that represent different emotions in a dramatic story.”

Western magicians will smile at the breakaway fan used in the middle of the performance. As for the how of the instantaneous face-changing? No clue.

Click on the video to play; this one is best at full screen, which you can access by clicking on the lower right hand corner of the video.