Cultural Feast – “Happy Spring Festival” Celebrations Abroad
Auspicious big red lanterns, vivid performances, authentic folk music… On the eve of the 2017 Chinese New Year, “Happy Spring Festival” celebrations and other cultural events enabled overseas Chinese to feel the strong festive flavor from their motherland amid a joyful and harmonious atmosphere, while presenting the unique charm of the Chinese culture to foreign citizens.
On Jan. 24th, the Cultural Palace in Khabarovsk, a city in Russia's Far East, was decorated and its performance hall that can accommodate nearly 700 audiences was packed. As Chinese students performing the lion dance outside the performance hall, strong festive atmosphere was floating in the air. The “Happy Spring Festival” celebration began with a Chinese folk music ensemble Spring Festival Overture, and it was followed by Lute solo Spring of the Tianshan Mountains, Erhu ensemble Horse Racing, folk music ensemble Golden Snake Dance, traditional Chinese magic tricks and acrobatics, and other Chinese style performances, winning cheers and applause from the audience. Local Russian officials said that the influence of the Chinese Spring Festival is growing in the world, and so is Russian people's interest in traditional Chinese culture and customs. They appreciated China’s thoughtful preparations for these cultural performances, which gives the audience artistic enjoyment and warm wishes of the Spring Festival.
In Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, the large-scale theatrical performance Liaohai Sentiment started on Jan. 24th. Performers from the Song and Dance Ensemble from China’s Liaoning Province offered a spectacular show combining folk dances, instrumental music, vocal music, acrobatics and the song-and-dance duet, which entertained the audience to their hearts’ content. Previously, Liaohai Sentiment had been performed several times in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, and incorporated into activities hosted by local Chinese celebrating the Spring Festival, including the "Fun Day of Flower Fair in Spring Festival" and the "Spring Festival Flower Fair " in the Year of the Rooster. After watching the performance of the Song and Dance Ensemble of Liaoning Province, Bill English, Prime Minister of New Zealand, spoke highly of it.
On the evening of Jan. 24th, a large-scale theatrical performance under the theme of “Embracing a Happy Spring Festival in Equatorial Guinea” was held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Performers from the Jinan Art Troupe brought the audience Chinese songs and dances, acrobatics, magic tricks and folk instrumental music. The Ceiba Dance Troupe of Equatorial Guinea presented a dance with unique characteristics and vibrant rhythm. Jinan Art Troupe also performed Jasmine Flower and Auld Lang Syne with students from the Confucius Institute at National University of Equatorial Guinea and members from Musicians Association of Equatorial Guinea respectively. On behalf of the Equatorial Guinean government, José Antonio Esono Abeso Máquina, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Craft Promotion, warmly welcomed the "Happy Spring Festival" celebrations being held again in the country and wished the Chinese people in Equatorial Guinea a happy new year.
On Jan. 24th, teachers and students from Beijing Dance Academy successfully delivered the last performance in Romania in Arad, a city in western Romania, ushering the "Happy Spring Festival" celebrations to a climax. "Happy Spring Festival" celebrations have been held in Romania for 5 consecutive years, and the performance by Beijing Dance Academy is an important part of this year's event. On Jan.19th, teachers and students of the academy carried out their first performance in Sibiu, known as the "European cultural capital". On Jan. 21st, they performed in the famous Romanian Athenaeum in the capital of Romania, Bucharest, and presented splendid folk dances of ethnic minorities in China to the audience.
The series of large-scale “Happy Spring Festival” cultural activities of Benin have been held 8 times by this year. The performance team, composed of Art Troupe from Gansu Province in China, Folk Art Troupe of Porto-Novo, Chinese Culture Center in Benin and the Confucius Institute at University of Abomey-Calavi, held a stunning parade and square show in Porto-Novo, the political capital of Benin, on the afternoon of Jan. 22nd. The 500-people parade team is divided into 12 square matrixes, walking through streets and alleys and singing and dancing throughout the journey. Artists from both China and Benin made joint performances. Dressed in colorful Han Chinese clothing, students from the Confucius Institute performed Chinese Yangge Dance, which combined the enthusiasm of African people with the simplicity and cheerfulness in the dance of Han nationality, bringing laughter to the audience. Art Troupe from Gansu Province also presented wonderful traditional Chinese dances, instrumental performances and others to local audience, pushing the event to a climax.
With the Chinese New Year around the corner, the Chinese Elk Chamber Orchestra held a flute concert themed with Jade Bamboo& Spring Morning in the Piano Concert Hall in Sigulda, Latvia. Hu Yulin, head of Chinese Elk Chamber Orchestra, performed 10 pieces of Chinese folk music with other eight members, including Golden Snake Dance, The Moon over a Fountain, and Old Six Boards Variations. Liga Sausina, Vice Mayor of Sigulda, said that the Elk Chamber Orchestra brought a musical feast to the citizens of Sigulda and enriched their cultural life. She would like to take this opportunity to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China, especially in the fields of culture and arts.
In the center of Lisbon, capital of Portugal, red lanterns hang high over the Martin Porto Moniz Square. On Jan. 21st, performers from Wu Opera Troupe of Zhejiang Province, Lisbon Chinese School, local Chinese community, and Portuguese local cultural groups performed in the main streets around the square. Dressed in colorful national costumes, they beat drums and gongs, performed dragon and lion dances and other lively dances. In the following "Happy Spring Festival" performances, Wu Opera Troupe of Zhejiang Province performed the magnificent Nine Part Dragon Dance, and the Portuguese Figueira da Foz Folk Song and Dance Ensemble performed the cheerful City Hymn. According to Fernando Medina, Mayor of Lisbon, "Happy Spring Festival" activities not only demonstrate the traditional Chinese culture, but also build a platform for Portuguese-Chinese cultural integration.
In Prague, the capital of Czech, the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra held the "Happy Spring Festival" concert in collaboration with Chinese folk musicians for the first time. They jointly performed such masterpieces as Fisherman’s Harvest and Fantasy of BaiDi. With exquisite skills of musicians from both China and Czech and their tacit cooperation, Chinese and Western music were ingeniously integrated, making the performance brilliant and splendid.
Story by Wu Gang, Su Liang, Wang Yi, Lin Huifen, Chen Jin, Li Deping, Huang Yanan, Zhang Yadong, Zhang Gaiping, Wang Hongchuan
Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, Jan. 25th