Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Extended Chinese New Year celebrations with the Jilin Provincial Art Troupe

Jilin Provincial Art Troupe

The Jilin Provincial Art Troupe extended the Chinese New Year celebrations when they performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo a cultural show entitled Happy Chinese New Year. This show, highlighting Chinese culture through music, song, dance, theater, and even magic tricks, was also in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Philippine-China Diplomatic Relations.

Following the opening remarks from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, the show opened with a lively dance number with the whole troupe wearing colorful costumes representing the various regions of China. All of the dances in fact, featured colorful and intricately designed costumes and it was remarkable that the costumes were still able to showcase the dancers’ elegant and clean lines.

The dancers’ movements were refined and controlled, showing that they’ve had strong classical training and were able to infuse the western classical with the Chinese traditional. It was refreshing to see these dancers who did not need to be wild and hysterical with their bumping and grinding to be considered good.

There were also a handful of song numbers from Wang Qi and Chen Xin, who was also one of the hosts for that evening. They first sang a Chinese song before surprising the audience with a rendition of a Filipino folk song, Pen Pen de Sarapen for Wang Qi and Bahay Kubo for Chen Xin. The audience rewarded the two’s effort with generous applause.

One of the highlights of the show was the unique lion dance that not only had handkerchief tricks but also a courtship between two lions that eventually lead to the birth of three little cubs. This entertaining number actually won the gold at the World Lion Dance Competition in Japan.

For me, the main highlight and what brought the house down was the performance of three pipa players. The instrument may be strange, the music may be unusual, but the virtuosity of the main player (whose name I never found out) impressed the audience to the point that they applauded even while the performance was going on.

Watching the various numbers of the show, I was transported decades ago when some local television stations aired Chinese dramas and variety shows during Sundays. Catered mostly to the Chinese population in the Philippines, it was considered odd for Filipinos to watch these programs since they were not in any language most of us really knew. Fast forward to today, it is encouraging to see how times have changed and how receptive Filipinos are right now in performances that show a different culture.

The Jilin Provincial Art Troupe’s Happy Chinese New Year was presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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