Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield Holds 2011 Chinese New Year Celebrations

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield [Time]    2011-03-08 15:31:54 

Sheffield, Feb. 7th — It is still cold and rainy in Britain in early February. The Sheffield City Hall Theatre was decorated with red lanterns and filled with cheerful music on the 5th day of the 1st lunar month (Feb. 7th). In spite of the rain, thousands of local Chinese and British people gathered there to attend a Chinese New Year party co-hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield, the Sheffield City Hall and other 4 local institutions. China's Gansu province Opera Ensemble, which is touring in the UK, together with the Confucius Institute’s volunteers and local CSSA (Chinese Scholar and Student Association) members presented an excellent performance to the audience.

The Chinese Minster to the UK Qin Gang; the Minister Counselor for cultural affairs Wu Xun; the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Alan Law; the Leader of Sheffield City Council Paul Scriven as well as representatives from the university and various fields were invited to the event. Also present were the Confucius Institute’s Director Prof. Zang Xiaowei and Deputy Director Dr. Zhao Xia. Minister Qin Gang first delivered the opening remarks, saying that the Spring Festival is the biggest day in China and wishing everyone a happy Spring Festival. He stated that the Chinese festival has enjoyed increasing popularity among British people in recent years and Spring Festival customs and traditions have spread throughout the world, becoming a symbol of traditional Chinese culture, thanks to the joint efforts of Chinese people at home and abroad. In his speech, Cllr Paul Scriven stated that the Chinese New Year, as a window for people to know about China, is becoming increasingly popular among local citizens. He also expressed his hope that Sheffield would continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, economy and trade with China and said he hoped the party would be a complete success.

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Before the performance, a long booth set up by the Confucius Institute in the theatre’s exhibition area caught much attention from the guests and attracted a large number of visitors. Many locals got involved in games, such as picking up beans with chopsticks, learning to write Chinese Calligraphy and learning to speak in Chinese, so as to have a real taste of Chinese culture. In the center of the hall, a Confucius Institute teacher taught the visitors to do tai chi chuan. Cllr Paul Scriven wished everyone a Happy New Year in Chinese and gave red packets to about 30 pupils from the Star Chinese School who staged performances for the event. There are about 150 students learning Chinese at the school. Most of them are local students ranging from 5 to 16 years old and 11 have passed the new YCT test (level 4) in 2010.

A festive dragon and lion dance amidst cheerful sound of gongs and drums raised the curtain for the party. The first program was a dance—“Jasmine Flower” staged by local pupils who are now engaged in learning Chinese at the Institute. The students range in age from 5 to 12 years old. The lovely performers rehearsed for the occasion for about two months beforehand and brought a lot of pleasure to the audience. There was an interesting incident during their performance: the music stopped working suddenly due to some technical problems. At first, the little performers got into a bit of a flap. They quickly calmed down and continued their performance without music. Their flexibility won rounds of cheers and applause from the audience.

The performance was unusually brilliant. Elegant dances, such as “Water-Moon Avalokitesvara” and “Dreamlike Dunhuang” conquered the audience; Chinese instrumental ensemble played pieces of traditional Chinese music “Classical Music of Dunhuang”, “Spring of Tianshan” and “A Moonlit Night on the Spring River”, giving westerners a real taste of the charm of Chinese folk music; Chinese acrobatics and a kungfu show was the highlight of the party. The audience was totally amazed by the profoundness of Chinese culture.

In the closing speech, the organizing committee chairman thanked the Confucius Institute for its great support. Since 2004, the Sheffield City Hall hosts Chinese New Year celebrations every year and as one of the organizers, the Confucius Institute has involved in the events since its establishment in 2007.

The performance lasted over 2 hours and charmed the audience. In the drizzling rain, British and Chinese people celebrated the Spring Festival together and had a happy and unforgettable night.

(Text and photo by the Confucius Institute volunteer Guo Zhi)