“Culture in Motion” exposes audience to traditional Chinese arts

The Asian Student Union invites the Chengdu Textile College to campus

Hosting the Chengdu Textile College (CDTC), the Asian Student Union brought a unique flavor of culture to campus on Oct. 3. Culture in Motion provided a glimpse into a different cultural experience as students were able to witness traditional Chinese ethnic arts in practice.

The performers were part of a 12-member delegation visiting Newport News on an exchange sponsored by The William and Mary Confucius Institute and Sister Cities of Newport News. For two years, the group has been preparing and practicing their art before bringing their performance to the United States.

The program opened with a musical composition, Spring to Xiangjiang River, using a modern-day guzheng, a stringed instrument. Liu Yuying transported me with her ease yet complexity of her art. The piece was peaceful and alluring, and one could feel the passion fill the room. It set the tone for an entertaining event that doesn’t really fit the norm for a usual CNU event.

Following that performance, Wu Wenting showed us the Sichuan Opera art of mask-changing. It was a performance filled with dancing to upbeat music as she changed masks throughout the performance, almost if using magic. The audience was in awe of her seamless mask transitions, representing the changing emotions of characters in the opera. 

Towards the end of her performance, she came into the audience and went from aisle to aisle performing the intricate mask changes, delighting the audience with the wonder of her up close and personal performance.

The next two acts focused on traditional musical talent. A group of two men and two women sung and danced to Polyphonic music traditions of the Tibetan minority of China. The Yi people’s folk songs, which were ballad-like and calming to the ear, were also represented by Su Wenying.

Personally, my favorite act of the night was the Sichuan Opera art known as long sleeves. It’s a hard art to master, but Wu Wenting did it with elegance and grace that made it seem easy to the eye, and I left with great admiration for her performance. She performed it effortlessly with a poised smile on her face the entire time with delicate yet fierce hand movements that were intriguing and interesting to observe. After her performance, she had volunteers from the audience join her on stage and she taught them some hand movements and poses.

Closing the night, an ancient costume show displayed the traditional clothing, Hanfu, of the Han Dynasty. Long flowing robes, wide sleeves and a belt characterized the clothing of this era and was modeled by a male and a female model on stage. 

Qipao, a traditional costume of Chinese women that fits like a glove, was also represented on stage. These styles were fascinating to see and to compare to modern day American styles as well as my perception of traditional Chinese garb.

This cultural exchange was an enlightening and worthwhile event to attend. Experiencing the art of another culture allowed me think beyond our campus and imagine another community that is different but the same in that we’re all pursuing a higher education. 

As a result of this event, one can conclude that exposure to diversity is crucial to today’s society and carrying on tradition is an admirable field that can be fun and exciting to experience.

~Abigail Wallace, Staff Writer~

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