The UR student community came out in force to witness the Chinese Student Association’s China Nite bursting into life in Strong Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 9. CSA worked arduously for months to organize and plan a series of performances that were incorporated into an entertaining skit to celebrate the year of the Rat.

As the members of CSA added some finishing touches to their props and make-up, seats filled up quickly with UR students confirming the sold-out show and marking its success. Lights, music and bright colors filled Strong Auditorium and the greatly anticipated performances began at 8 p.m. sharp.

China Nite’s complete production was organized, run and choreographed by students. While CSA downplayed some similarities of the skit to the movie Ratatouille, it included aspects of the Chinese culture by representing the ancient Chinese zodiac signs through the characters of the movie and the skit.

The comical skit told a story of a rat with a passion for cooking, which tied all of the performances together with a common theme of food. Dances and songs were also included, which made it all the more entertaining and enjoyable for the audience.

The dances and songs were inspired by many popular and modern Chinese artists as well as the ancient traditions that have been celebrated for many centuries.

Some of the highlights included a traditional flower dance, a male contemporary dance, two modern female dances, a fashion show, “Lao Shu Ai Da Mi” (“Mice Loves Rice”) song, the “Juicy” Dance and the The Kung-Fu Fan Dance. The Kung-Fu Fan Dance is the actual fan dance that will be performed by professionals in the Olympic games in Beijing this coming summer of 2008.

One of my personal favorites, the Kung-Fu Fan Dance, had an air of elegance and impressive hand-eye coordination skills that captivated and awed members of the audience. Another favorite performance among the UR students was the male contemporary dance.

The many hours spent on practicing was obvious, hence the exceptional breakdance moves. From windmills to handstands, the boys strutted their stuff out onto the dance floor with limbs flying to the beat of the music, enthralling the audience.

The Fashion Show was another hit success. It included traditional Chinese clothing such as the qipao, an ancient one-piece Chinese dress that was originally made to insulate the body, yet is renowned for its beauty and meticulous patterns. Other modern clothing that are popular in China and in the United States were also worn proudly that day by the members of CSA. Much of the clothing was a fusion of Chinese tradition with modern styles.

Everyone seemed to agree that CSA did an exemplary job with all of the performances and their hard work and dedication was evident in the final product. Though the bulk of the performers and audience were of Asian descent, many new faces appeared on stage.

“It was nice to see people of non-Asian descent participate on stage and in the audience,” CSA member and senior Andrew Farmer said.

From the aesthetic dances and songs to the innovative skit, I think I speak for everyone when I say that all Ratatouille lovers got a delightful “taste” of the Chinese culture.

Lee is a member of the class of 2011.

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