Chinese Lunar New Year in Memphis
Located in the southeast of the US, the beautiful city of Memphis in Tennessee is hailed as a bright pearl inlaid on the east bank of the Mississippi River. As the largest city in Tennessee, Memphis enjoys laudable natural landscapes and nourishes a unique Southern culture in the US.
Memphis is the birthplace of Rock and Roll, the hometown of Blues, the former residence of Elvis Presley, and the last stop of the speech on human rights by Martin Luther King, the leader of African-American civil rights movement. Nowadays, this glorious city is glowing with brighter lights. Besides the world-renown cotton industry, Memphis has the world’s largest express company, FedEx (Federal Express), which is running all over the world like a thorough-bred horse with stamina, and the world’s largest cargo hub airport, Memphis International Airport. Moreover, the Memphis medical research institution, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, leads the world in leukemia treatment research.
Band by the Mississippi River
In this place with outstanding people and landscapes, for many years, the Chinese community has made significant contribution to the local cultural and economic development, and also actively carried out community activities for the sake of cultural integration. In particular, since 2003, the Chinese New Year Gala, which is held every year during the Chinese Lunar New Year, not only allows the overseas Chinese there to feel at home, but also serves as a window for promoting the Chinese culture. So far, the Memphis Chinese community has successfully held fourteen Memphis Chinese New Year Galas.
This year, on January 28, the Memphis Chinese New Year Gala, organized by the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association, and co-organized by institutions such as the Confucius Institute at the Memphis University, was held at Michael D. Rose Theatre at University of Memphis.
On that evening, the Michael D. Rose Theater was decorated with lanterns and streamers, and all seats there were occupied. From the elderly and gray-haired to the young and innocent, everyone was smiling and exchanging New Year's greetings to each other. Though being overseas, everybody could still feel a deep hometown love .
Before the gala, Yu Xinhua, President of the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association and Jim Strickland, Mayor of Memphis City made speeches respectively, and wished all Chinese people a happy new year. At first, Yu expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese community for their strong support and selfless dedication to the preparation of the event. He also pointed out that the Gala has become an event welcomed and loved by the local American people, and plays a significant role in uniting the Chinese people and promoting the Chinese culture. Then, Mayor of Memphis City made a speech, in which he spoke highly of the outstanding contributions of the Chinese community to the economy and culture development of Memphis, and pointed out that the Chinese community is an important part of Memphis’s cultural diversity. He hoped that the Chinese people could continue to serve as a link to promote cultural exchanges and economic and cultural development between China and the US.
Dragon-dance team of the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis performing Chinese Dragon
The Gala started with resounding music and drum beats. The first performance was the dragon dance team of the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis. Under the guidance of the “dragon ball”, the glittering golden dragon appeared like falling from the sky. Eleven students and teachers from the Confucius Institute and the University of Memphis showed great spirits and vigorous walking steps, making the Chinese dragon dance on the clouds. The giant dragon spiraled and erected, winning warm applause from the audience. What is particularly notable was Chang Guiling, the performer who held the “dragon ball”. As the champion of national martial arts, Chang is good at all kinds of kungfu. As she dropped the “dragon ball” and picked up a nine-section-whip, the steel mace was waved like a shooting star amid strong wind sound. After that, like a tiger dashing down from a mountain, Chang’s quick moves deeply impressed the audience.
Dance performance at the Memphis Gala
Four actors from a professional performance group of China’s Hunan Province, Furong Garden Impression were also invited at the Gala. In addition, nearly 200 Chinese in Memphis also attended the show. Kiss the Motherland performed by Guo Jianning and other two artists from Hunan Province demonstrated dauntless spirit and expressed their infinite love to their motherland. The performance from local Chinese in the region added more brilliance to the Gala. The elegant dance Crescent Moon, the graceful cheongsam show Beautiful Scenery Line, poetry recitation of Jing Ye Si (Thoughts on a Quiet Night) and Night Mooring by Maple Bridge by the children, the mystic Magic from Zhou Zeyou and all other programs were full of extraordinary splendour like flowers with full blossom, leaving the people pleasantly surprised.
Madame Zhuang Daming, organizer of the Gala, said there are a number of "unsung heroes" in the preparation process every year. Jobs like stage setting, lights, sound effect, props, etc., are all done by volunteers, who spend their spare time learning how to operate various equipments so as to make sure that the performance goes on smoothly. What's more, local American-Chinese, from little kids to adults, are much excited in joining the big party. They rehearsed on the early morning of every Saturday. Some of the performances, like martial arts and dancing, have been practiced for almost a year. Each show expresses those overseas Chinese's deep love and nostalgia for their motherland and the Chinese culture.
Tibetan dance at the Memphis Chinese New Year Gala
At the end, the vibrant Tibetan dance Droma and Her Best Wishes, brought the Gala to a high point. People expressed New Year’s wishes to each other amid the song An Unforgettable Night and looked forward to gathering together in Memphis again next year.
Story and Photos by Yan Ningfeng, Feb. 6th, 2017, People's Daily Overseas Edition, Page 6)