A group of girls does a more traditional Chinese dance using parasols in Strong Auditorium. Shermain Singh, Photo Editor.

For the Chinese New Year, the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) presented China Nite 2011 on Friday, Feb. 5. Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, the show started at 8 p.m. and ran for about two hours. The

performance showcased classic and contemporary Chinese culture ­ —  the many acts alternated between displays of dancing, singing and other aspects of Chinese culture with a comedic storyline presented in Chinatown, N.Y.

It opened with a video parodying the recent novel “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, setting the tone for a humorous and entertaining night.

Next up was a fashion show directed by sophomore Thanh Ngo, which featured contemporary fashion including dark suits and black dresses, as well as more classical Chinese dresses with floral designs. The show then shifted gears to music, showcasing two songs, “Aiyiya,” and “Wu Ding.” “Aiyiya,” sung by a group of six girls, was very well choreographed but sounded best when the group sang in unison. Freshmen Wentao Wang and Harris Liu performed “Wu Ding,” a slower but more melodic song, which was very well-received by the crowd.

Furthering the mixture of contemporary and classical routines, the next two performances were a hip-hop dance and a Peking Opera ribbon dance. The hip-hop routine was the longest and largest performance, as it transitioned from solo dances to large choreographed routines, achieving awe-inspiring effects. The ribbon dance, which featured a red background, ribbons and classical Chinese music, was a solo performance by freshman Luqin Tao, who showcased great talent in her routine. Rounding out Act I was a Chinese folk dance performed by an outside group, the Phoenix Dance Troupe, which effectively roused the crowd through colorful costumes and umbrellas and by throwing out items to the audience.

Throughout these first act performances, members of the CSA acted out a storyline set in present-day New York. In this story, Yu Wan (sophomore Alexander Wei) meets the girl of his dreams Mei (sophomore Helena Liu), unable to recognize the affection his neighbor Jade (freshman Xu Yu) has for him.
The story was simple and sweet, but the best part was its humor. The biggest laughs came from Mama Wan, played with great comedic timing by sophomore Manuel Lim.

The first performance after intermission was a modern fan dance, choreographed by senior Edward Chung, which continued the trend of combining elements of classic China with more contemporary features. The Rochester Chinese Dance Company took the stage next  for a routine entitled “Hero,” in which they were able to effectively match their dance moves to the changing tempo of the music.

The show continued to excite, with two more good performances featuring dancing and action. The first was a large ensemble’s display of Tai Chi and Martial Arts, complete with sword fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Then came Midnight Symphony, an eerie and mysterious dance set against a purple background, in which the dancers, all dressed in black, almost appeared to be silhouettes.

The next two performances included a slow song with great harmonizing and an exciting large modern dance, which fused American and Taiwanese hip-hop styles. The final performance song tied into the show’s storyline.

In the second act, the story continued with the introduction of two popular characters, the “Chairman,” played by alumnus Michael Yee and Jay Chou (sophomore Brian Ho), both of whom garnered much applause and laughter from the audience.

In the plot, Yu Wan saves Mei from her kidnappers — the Chairman and his henchmen — only to realize that he loves Jade, wooing her with the final song and performance, “Moon Represents Whose Heart.” The biggest laughs of the night still came from Mama Wan, especially when she was on stage with Jay Chou or the Chairman.

At the end of the night, the host stated, “China Nite is for everyone and Chinese New Years is for everyone” ­— he was glad to see a diverse audience. All in all, China Nite 2011 was an enjoyable performance showcasing  Chinese culture, which thoroughly entertained and educated at the same time.

Levin-Epstein is a member of the class of 2014.

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