Chinese music, dance, and theater — both traditional and contemporary — came to Strong Auditorium during China Nite, sponsored by the Chinese Student Association, on Friday.
“Lunar New Year is a time for family reunion,” one of the four hosts announced. “Although most of us aren’t able to be with our families tonight, […] we hope our performance touches you.”
It did — many audience members spent the two hours laughing and yelling, celebrating the Year of the Pig with CSA’s performances.
The night opened with students greeting guests who walked up the steps with red gift bags. Traditionally, as explained by the hosts in Mandarin and English, red envelopes filled with money are exchanged at family celebrations during Chinese New Year. The CSA filled our gift bags with packets of candy and a delicate red and gold envelope with five yuan inside.
The show opened with the Chinese Music Ensemble of Rochester playing traditional music on Pi Pa, a four-stringed instrument, and Di Zi, a long, transverse flute, in front of a glowing red screen.
The ensemble showcased classical Chinese music, while Quinn, during the next musical act, performed an original song that mixed piano ballads and hip-hop solos together. She kicked off the theme of modern music, and pop group Blast Fusion followed with a street dance performance accented by strobe lights and Chinese pop music. Student group Mickey’s Dinner, featuring seniors Mojin Yu and Darren Huang sang two soft rock renditions of “Dark Fantasy” and “All of the Lights,” with soft angst.
The show also included diversity performances unaffiliated with the Lunar New Year. UR Beatbox Collective presented “The Sounds of Nature,” which featured members spitting raindrops and bird calls into the microphones. Dance group “Louvre” showed us a jazz performance to “Shine a Light” by the Rolling Stones.
Between each act, the student hosts walked onstage in suits and dresses, lit up by spotlights in front of the golden curtains. People walked out when the lights came up for the game section of China Nite, the hosts invited audience members onstage to read Chinese tongue twisters and rallied the crowd to partake in a Kahoot guessing game of songs from both English and Chinese pop artists. The guests scattered throughout the seats were shouting from the front row to the balconies along with a laugh track that played in full talk-show fashion.
Two student student sketch comedians drew the biggest applause from the crowd.They stood at a long table and swapped banter back and forth while an English translation appeared on-screen. The translation couldn’t keep up with their witty banter. Phoenix Fire performed twice Friday night and ended the show as they have for the past four years, waving sheer parasols around onstage.
“This is a time for family,” one of the student announce again before they took the stage in shimmering dresses and ballet slippers. “Let us enjoy and send blessings to relatives on the other side of the Pacific.”
This sentiment rang as the airy music faded from the air and the performers twirled their parasols offstage, leaving students to embrace their celebration in the dark red and gold decorations of the theater, far from home.