China Nite was the culmination of a full week of activities sponsored by the Rochester Chinese Association and UR’s Chinese Student Association in honor of the Chinese New Year.
“This is a celebration not only of the Chinese New Year, but also of China’s entire culture,” CSA President Henry Chen said in his opening remarks on Saturday in Strong Auditorium.
Though the New Year actually falls on Feb. 2, it is Chinese tradition to continue the holiday celebration for the following 15 days.
To similarly enhance the celebration here on campus, CSA organized a series of events beginning with Tuesday’s double-feature movie night.
“By showing ‘Young and Dangerous’ and ‘God of Cookery,’ two subtitled Chinese movies, we hope to increase familiarity with the Chinese culture and expose the student body to Chinese media and film-making,” China Nite Coordinator and Vice-president of the CSA Michelle Li said.
The second of the week’s celebrations, the Chinese Arts and Literature display, opened on Wednesday afternoon in Wilson Commons.
Students could browse through the collection of authentic Chinese ornaments and origami and take part in demonstrations given by an acupuncturist, calligrapher Jason Chin and painter Alice Chen. The CSA also offered a game night in Friel Lounge Thursday evening.
Saturday’s China Nite was meant to be the week’s most extravagant celebration of Chinese culture. The festivities began with a buffet-style dinner catered by Golden Dynasty, a local Chinese restaurant. This year’s attendance of approximately 200 people attests to the popularity of this dining event.
“This has been very enjoyable. It’s nice to see a lot of cultures represented — Chinese, American, Laotian, Vietnamese,”Tom Salamida of East Rochester, who came to the dinner with family and friends said of the evening.
From young children to long-time members of the Rochester Chinese Association, everyone was warmly welcomed by a table of greeters and cheerful servers.
Sophomore Jeff Bentley agreed. “I enjoy having dinner and then being able to attend the performance afterwards as a continuation of the special night,” he said.
This continuation, the eleven-act China Nite performance, incorporated characteristics of both traditional and modern Chinese entertainment.
“China has one of the oldest histories. The culture and traditions have changed, but have remained an enriching part of Chinese life,” Li said.
“When putting together the program for China Nite, we tried to highlight the most spectacular and entertaining aspects of the culture,” she added. Members of CSA began planning for this “spectacular” show at the end of October. Since each year’s performance includes new dances by different choreographers, participants of most acts started rehearsing as early as November.
Though the majority of the show is devoted to the talent of CSA members, the organization also invites several other performers. This year, RIT’s Martial Arts Club performed a routine choreographed by its own Ali Talib Al-Raisi. Dr. Rujing Han, a practitioner at Strong Memorial Hospital, sang an excerpt from a Chinese opera, and UR’s own a cappella group After Hours accompanied soloists Barbie Leung, Monty Ngai and Dan Kneezel. The performance also featured four dance routines, five vocal performances, a fashion show which modeled traditional Chinese women’s clothing and a skit emphasizing cross-cultural morals.
“I’ve attended China Nite for three years in a row, and it’s always entertaining to see kids I know up on stage cracking jokes during the skit and showing off talents during the other acts,” senior Mike Chen said.
Performing as a member of both CSA and After Hours, senior Monty Ngai said in reflection of the evening’s performance, “I like the freedom I have while on stage and having the opportunity to sing in Chinese with After Hours. I hope the audience got a chance to learn something about the Chinese culture and enjoyed being exposed to Chinese music and dance.”
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