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Culture on campus

The Chinese Student Association held its largest event of the year, Chinese Night, in Parents Hall last Saturday. After a short speech by the president of the Chinese Association of Iowa, Chinese Night started off with a bang (literally) as students from Iowa State University performed a Lion Dance. According to the event program, a Lion Dance is a “traditional Chinese dance for auspicious occasions such as Chinese New Year or a special opening ceremony to protect people from bad luck.” The dance is traditionally accompanied by loud percussion music in order to scare evil spirits away.

Applause broke out during the moments when the performers made their lion “stand up” by having the person controlling the head leaping onto the shoulders of the person controlling the body. At certain points, the lions also went into the crowd to interact with the audience. Most people seemed excited by the opportunity to watch the lions up close, but it was perhaps a little too intense for younger members of the audience.

“It was a little creepy,” said Nate, a 10-year-old who studies Chinese at Walnut Street School. Apparently, one of the lions had come up to his classmate and brushed its head against him.

After an invigorating set of opening performances, guests were treated to a Sodexo-prepared dinner that ostensibly offered authentic dishes from China. The menu included Yangzhou fried Rice, Chinese wings, mapo tofu and a common household dish in China, stir-fry tomatoes and eggs.

Sophomore Xinjian Yu, one of the performers, said that even though the dishes were good, they were quite different from the food back home. He had, however, high praises for the mapo tofu. The dinner was finished up with a dessert of tang yuan, glutinous rice balls in a sweet syrup.

During dinner, the audience was treated to a series of CCTV video clips of various performances in China. Gasps of amazement could be heard at the incredible acrobatic feats on screen.

“They’re so talented,” said Jake Franccyx, a member of a performer’s host family.

Franccyx was astounded to learn from a CSA member that the performers featured in these videos are not celebrities in China despite the superhuman feats they are capable of, and that these performances are in fact considered common.

Performances by students resumed after dinner with a showcase of various Chinese traditional instruments. One such performance was senior Meng Xu’s virtuosic handling of the Chinese harp. Her fierce, yet sensitive, fingers evoked images of bubbling brooks, raging waterfalls and tumbling clouds. This performance was followed by a fairy dance by ISU sleeve dancers as well as performances of various popular and classic Chinese songs. First-year Hua Tang performed the last two songs. Her expressive voice charmed the audience and netted her a bouquet of roses.

The penultimate performance was a fusion of Chinese ribbon dance and modern Korean dance. Afterwards, there were a few fun activities, one of which involved the dancers teaching audience members how to ribbon dance. The night ended with duets of popular Chinese love songs. A favorite was performed by seniors Leeping Chong and Zi Fern Wan with their quiet, tender rendition of “A Little Touched.”

Congratulations are in order to the CSA for a successful Chinese Night. Apart from this event, the CSA also organizes other events to promote Chinese culture, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival (it’s the one where you get to eat moon cakes and play with fancy lanterns) and Dumpling-Making Day.


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