Photo Credit to Shermaine Singh

China Nite celebrated a belated Chinese New Year with both traditional and modern dances on Feb. 11

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and it’s easy to see why — a time to reconcile, to forget old grudges and to sincerely wish for peace and happiness for mankind is a cause worth celebrating. The UR community celebrated the holiday in style on Saturday, Feb. 11 at China Nite in Strong Auditorium.

Sponsored by the Chinese Students’ Association, China Nite combined theatrical performance with dance numbers in a completely original way. There was a continuing skit about a young boy going to rescue his father from the Shadow Emperor and dance numbers were occasionally  introduced through the narrative.

Quite frankly, the skit was only alright. There were occasional entertaining moments — jokes about General Tso’s chicken being disgusting in China, but “perhaps popular somewhere… else” seemed to be big winners with the audience — but for the most part it just seemed like filler space. However, the evening’s dance numbers more than made up for it.

There was an interesting combination of modern and traditional dances, though the modern ones seemed to be more popular, judging from the audience’s cheers. However, all the dances were entertaining and generally well-executed.

The show began with a classical dance from the Tang Dynasty called “Peach Blossom.” The dance is supposed to show the happy mood of a number of girls who are getting married, and for the most part it was well done, if a little bit forgettable. There was number was technically fine, and it was in fact enjoyable in it’s own way, but didn’t quite live up to expectations. China Nite was just warming up, though.

There were four musical performances which completely stole the show from the dance numbers. “Peach Blossom” was followed by solo singer senior Johnny Ting Zheng, sophomores Yang Hong and Tracy Tian sang solo numbers as well and freshmen Louisa Luyu Lei and Aaron Cravens played a piano and hulusi (a free reed wind instrument from China) duet. All of these performances were exceptional and helped break up the monotony of a dance-heavy show.

However, that’s not to say the dance numbers themselves were monotonous. UR Breakdance performed an extremely entertaining number early in the performance, which really captured the audience’s attention.

The Chinese School of Rochester, a non-profit organization teaching Chinese language and culture, performed a children’s dance number as well.

The children’s ages ranged from four or five to maybe a few years over ten. The dance wasn’t very intricate, but it was adorable nonetheless and the audience adored every minute.

There were only a few more traditional dances after that, and while they were all beautiful, it was definitely easy to see that the audience just wasn’t enjoying them as much.

It might have been that mistakes were simply easier to see, since the pace was slower and there weren’t any crazy, night-club style lights that the modern numbers were fond of using. It might have been the fact that the traditional songs and dances were much slower. Either way, they definitely didn’t captivate the audience nearly as quickly as the ones in the beginning of the show.

The modern numbers, on the other hand, had Upper Strong clapping and cheering like no other. Most of them had a night-club feel, with metallic clothing and flashing lights. The “Big Star” number, set to a Chinese pop song by the Lotte Girls, seemed to really liven up the audience after a traditional dance number

The RICE Crew dance, however, stole the show as a closer. RICE Crew is UR’s Asian hip-hop dance group that combines elements from American hip-hop dance and Asian pop music. It was a large performance, but everything seemed crisp, and some of their stunts seemed to defy the laws of physics.

China Nite, overall, was excellent, and worth braving the cold for. Even with a lackluster skit — a few people seeming to forget their lines — and an occasional dull moment during the traditional dances, it seems that there would be no better way to ring in the Chinese New Year — even if it was a month late.

Howard is a member of the class of 2013.

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