On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) held a series of performances in honor of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a harvest festival that has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. Celebrated among families and friends and full of music and dance, the show created an atmosphere of community while providing a night of great entertainment.
The festival is specific in terms of the people who celebrate it, but oddly broad in those who can relate to the meaning behind it. Anyone in the audience could identify with missing someone or being far from home and taking a day to visit or simply reconnect. It was a sentimental message for a performance, but one that made it endearing, not cliché. This idea of reuniting family was made even more poignant by the message in the back of the program: “No matter how far apart we are, we all share the same point in time.”
The effectiveness of this message made the performances even more enjoyable. The small children on stage became your sister, your little cousin or your neighbor; the music performed was something you’d listened to when you were little. It may have been unfamiliar in content, but in meaning it read loud and clear.
The show largely consisted of dance numbers, with a few musical performances and one display of traditional costumes. The dances ranged from extremely professional to adorable and sweet, with the latter performed by children as young as four. These numbers tended to be high energy and carried out with great enthusiasm.
These youngsters performed in multiple dances, first appearing in the second number. The dance’s name, “Bonfire Night,” was appropriate, as it certainly seemed like a gathering of friends on a summer evening. Despite their small stature, the dancers performed admirably, rolling and jumping around the stage with ardency and mirth, seeming to genuinely enjoy themselves.
One of the most impressive dances of the evening, however, had to be “Phoenix Dance,” performed by the Phoenix Dance Company. Upon reading the name of the dance, such grand images are conjured that it seems to create expectations that are far too high to ever be met. However, the dancers did an excellent job from start to finish, and their costumes magnified the drama. When the dancers extended their arms, their red dresses looked like wings outlined in gold. For large parts of the dance their arms were either held out to maintain the illusion or moved gently and gracefully to give the appearance of flying. The idea of phoenixes themselves, representatives of new beginnings and possibilities, also added nicely to the theme of the festival.
The music was also done exceedingly well. There was a wide range, from pure instrumental performances to a collection of love songs to a famous classical Chinese song. “Spring Blossoms on a Moonlight River” in particular was a great choice for the show. Originally a solo performed on a pipa (a four-stringed Chinese instrument played by plucking and sometimes called the Chinese lute), it has been popular in China since the Ming Dynasty and was played during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
“The Nostalgia,” an instrumental piece performed by a piano and a violin and the second to last performance in the show, was beautifully done. It was originally a solo piece for a violin and the second to last performance in the show, was beautifully done. It was originally a solo piece for the violin, meant to convey homesickness. Melancholy and loneliness rolled off the stage. It was impossible to escape the effects of the music, and simultaneously saddened the listener and lessened the homesickness, knowing that everyone else was presumably feeling the same way.
The one thing that felt out of place was the RICE Crew performance. They were excellent performers, but their dances are always geared toward a more adult audience. This makes them exceedingly popular with the college students, however, in this family-oriented setting, it felt a little out of place and borderline inappropriate.
Overall though, the Mid-Autumn Festival was a great night, full of bright costumes, engaging music and a meaningful message. The show truly served its purpose by giving off a feeling of community and encouraging those attending to reconnect with family and friends — all with some great dancing to back it up.
Howard is a member of the class of 2013.