SANFORD — The beauty, grace, and excitement of spring danced across the stage of the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center Sunday as the Xiamen University Students Art Troupe shared traditional Chinese dance and music.
The Spring Festival Gala, performed by students and instructors of the Art College of Xiamen University, People’s Republic of China, also celebrated the start of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, which began Feb. 3.
“We wanted to bring the American people our joy in the spring festival and also make friends while we are here,” said Lin Gongming, chairman of the university’s Art College Council and the head of the Xiamen delegation.
The group delighted the audience with dance, music and a tai chi demonstration from some of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, such as the Yi. The numbers ranged from hauntingly graceful to energetic with evocative titles such as “Blooming Flowers and Full Moon.” The performance of some American tunes, such as “Jingle Bells,” added to the fun.
The musicians played traditional Chinese instruments: lute, zither, cucurbit flute, bamboo flute, dulcimer, and urheen, a two-stringed violin. Martin Woods Jr., an American student from Kentucky, acted as master of ceremonies for the show and also sang. He is a student at Xiamen’s Oversees Education College.
The Xiamen University performance was the fourth in a series of Chinese cultural events brought to the area by Central Carolina Community College’s Confucius Classroom, in partnership with North Carolina State University’s Confucius Institute. The Classroom was established in 2009 to help strengthen cultural and economic ties and understanding between China and the area of central North Carolina that the college serves.
“The choreography was excellent and I’m a previous martial arts student, so the show made me feel I was in China,” said Barbara Overstreet, of Sanford. “This was my first time at one of the Chinese cultural events sponsored by the college. I grew up in New York, where shows like this are more common. It’s amazing the college brought this to Sanford — I’m so glad the college took it to this level.”
The Xiamen University Students Art Troupe is on a tour of the South. By the time it heads home, it will have performed at Presbyterian College, University of South Carolina, Western Kentucky University, North Carolina State University, and Middle Tennessee University. Central Carolina is the only community college on its schedule.
“The groups that have come through the college, including this group, have brought exposure to Chinese culture that few places in the United States have,” said Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive. “The lives of those who have seen them have been enriched.”
At the end of the performance, the Xiamen University Art College delegation presented a calligraphic painting to Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant and welcomed the friendship that has been established between the two institutions. Presenting the painting were Lin Gongming, deputy delegation head and chairman of the university’s Art College Council; and Art College assistant professor Fang Guangzhi.
“The lyrics to the last song this wonderful group sang included the words, ‘we will never forget this evening,’” said CCCC President Bud Marchant. “We at the college and all those who saw this performance never will. We are glad that our Confucius Classroom, in partnership with North Carolina State University’s Confucius Institute, was able to bring this tremendously talented group to the public in our area.”
For more information about CCCC’s Confucius Classroom, visit www.cccc.edu/confucius
or call (919) 718-7386 or (919) 718-7376.