A full house at the Charter Theatre was treated to a cornucopia of Chinese culture last night as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The China Chengdu Arts Troupe from Sichuan province were invited to perform in Preston by Uclan’s Confucius Institute.
The evening’s events began with introductions by Preston’s Mayor Carl Crompton and UCLan’s Vice Chancellor Malcolm McVicar, who thanked the troupe for visiting the city and stressed the importance of UCLan’s and Preston’s close links with China which have been developed over many years.
The three hour spectacular of Chinese song and dance gave the audience an insight into China’s cultural diversity and showcased a wealth of regional tradition, custom and costume. The first half of the performance included Sichuan opera, acrobatic power lifting, and a dazzling display of Chinese face changing, where the performers swapped masks with incredible speed and dexterity. A special mention should be given to four Uclan students, Dom, Pete, Sam and Ricky, who stepped in at the last minute to plug an unforeseen gap in proceedings. Their hastily concocted comedy kung Fu routine went down a storm with the appreciative audience.
Following an intermission, the extravaganza continued with further cultural delights highlighting the traditional music and dance of the Qiang, Yi and Tibetan ethnic groups. The instrumental ensemble, playing traditional Chinese instruments, was particularly enchanting with haunting melodies inspired by the mysterious and beautiful landscape of Liangshan, home of the Yi people.
The performance was concluded with a spectacular finale of traditional Chinese favourites and a dance routine that featured in the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games. With the whole cast assembled, the audience were invited to join them on stage to mingle with the players and take a few souvenir snapshots.
All in all, a great night of entertainment was had by everyone, and the whole evening proved to be a superb celebration of Chinese culture and heritage that further strengthens the links between the city of Preston and China. The Chengdu Arts Troupe travelled half way across the globe to entertain the people of Preston and their efforts were greatly appreciated. It just remains for me to wish all our Chinese friends a happy new year and best wishes for the year of the snake.
Gong Hey Fat Choy!