Chinese Students and Scholars Association celebrates Lunar New Year

The Chinese Spring Festival Gala included a range of cultural performances.

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The theater is buzzing, Chinese spoken in all different dialects filling up the space, making it seem truly like a Lunar New Year reunion. People of all ages – small toddlers, MU students to grandparents – gathered together at the Missouri Theatre on Feb. 3, creating a lively atmosphere before the celebration even began. Tingting Zhu, a helper for the event, explained the theme of the event. “It’s to celebrate the Chinese Spring Festival. It’s very important to us,” she said. “There are a lot of Chinese students, scholars and families here in Columbia, so this event is to let them celebrate the festival and to help them feel welcomed.” The event started off by welcoming the guests and inviting special guests onto the stage. These guests included Anna Hui, the first Asian-American to serve on the governor of Missouri’s cabinet. There was also David Currey, director of international student and scholar affairs, Lan Liu, the Chinese director from the Confucius Institute, Marie Stegmaier, vice provost of international programs, and others. Starting off strong, the first performance of the evening was the drum dance which featured rhythmic beats and flowing dance moves. The performances all brought a lot of Chinese cultures and traditional art to the stage. From Chinese calligraphy to Tai Chi performances, the evening showcased a mix of artistry, skill and practice. Traditional instruments like the guzheng and the pipa were played by talented soloists, the gentle music filling the theater with wistfulness. There was also a choreographed children’s choir, and when the little performers appeared behind the curtains, the audience let out a collective sound of endearment. However, this doesn’t mean that the performances of the festival only demonstrated traditional cultures – they also included modern and refreshing acts. With a powerful dance performance to songs like Beyoncé’s “Yoncé,” K-pop girl group Black Pink’s “Whistle” and “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars, dance crew Dreamcatcher brought pop culture flavors to the event.
Toward the end, there was a cheongsam show. Cheongsams are the traditional wear for Chinese women and these cultural and beautiful dresses were shown in different types and styles worn by women who danced gracefully across the stage. Before the evening ended officially, however, the four emcees appeared onstage to give a rundown on the honorable events that happened in 2018. From things like China launching the first mission to land on the moon’s far side to professor George P. Smith winning the Nobel Prize, the simple show highlighted proud moments for the community of Chinese students in Columbia and at MU during the past year. With that, all performers of the evening graced the stage once more to wish all a happy Lunar New Year, and the celebration came to a close. It was all in all a happy and joyous ceremony that hopefully made Columbia feel more like home for many of the Chinese students and families, even if just for one night.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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