“An Unforgettable Performance”

Yao Yuhong (San Francisco, U.S.): “When a beautiful college student performed a folk song on the stage, an American youth downstage couldn’t help singing with her romantic vocalization. At that moment, I thought: “Chinese culture has now flown with this song to many corners of the world.””

Currently there are over 4,000 Chinese language teachers and volunteers teaching Chinese in Confucius Institutes, primary and secondary schools and universities throughout the world. While spreading Chinese language and culture, these cultural envoys personally experienced exchanges and interactions with different teaching practices and other cultures. The column of Teachers’ Voices is a channel where Chinese language teachers and volunteers can share their teaching experience with each other. There will also be a collection of stories on their unique experiences in foreign lands these cultural envoys can share with our readers.

Yao Yuhong, Chinese teacher at Lycée Français, San Francisco, U.S.

Like many other people who were born and raised in China and later immigrated to the United States, I have always been attracted to variety shows from China. Every year, in appreciation of our work, a Chinese delegation comes to the United States during the Spring Festival to give us a variety show; I have never missed one. Every time, when I walk out after the show is over and see that the majority of the audience has a Chinese background just like I do, I start to think: “When will I be able to watch Chinese variety shows with people from different cultural backgrounds?” I was looking forward to this day – a little dream I kept in the bottom of my heart.

This little dream of mine was fulfilled on February 20 of 2010, when my American students and I went to Lowell High School to watch a show given by the Beijing Normal University Student Arts Troupe. Hosted by the Confucius Institute at San Francisco State University, the show was presented to students of Chinese and American friends who are fond of Chinese culture. You can imagine the excitement I felt when I found myself enjoying Chinese culture with people from different cultural backgrounds. Seeing the children absorbed in the performances, my heart was filled with gladness.

Yao Yuhong
The art troupe of Beijing Normal University giving the U.S. audience an
interesting and varied performance.

During the “Han Tang Dance”, as a girl student danced, a scholar beside her gave a live performance of calligraphy. Calligraphy is an art of lines. Its soul lies in the flow of life and strength; its dance presents a flow of lines. This leads me to think: “Aren’t the square Chinese characters really Chinese dances on paper?” The Erhu performance was also among the favorites of the American audience. The Erhu solos A Bug’s Life and Once upon a Time in America brought to the American children music with which they were familiar. Seeing the kids clapping their hands again and again, I smiled in sweet satisfaction. The face paint designs of the Beijing Opera, Chen Shimei’s Case, also drew attention from the kids with its colorful patterns and exaggerated flamboyancy. Although the kids did not quite understand the lyrics, Beijing Opera showed them a beautiful world of interlacing scenes that they obviously enjoyed very much. What followed was even more exciting: knife play, sword play and other Chinese martial arts performances. One little kid was bold enough to run onto the stage and learn from the performers. Judging from the seriousness with which he attended to his moves, he must have been an entry level martial arts fan who had already taken a few lessons! e Chinese folk songs expressed the romantic love between men and women. When a beautiful college student performed a folk song on the stage, an American youth downstage couldn’t help singing with her romantic vocalization. At that moment, I thought: “Chinese culture has now flown with this song to many corners of the world.”

You can imagine the excitement I felt when I found myself enjoying Chinese culture with people from dierent cultural backgrounds.

The show came to an end as the Beijing Olympics theme song, You and Me, filled the hall with its ethereal melody. I had taught this song to the students, who couldn’t help singing along and found themselves melted in an atmosphere of Chinese culture.

The show was over. Seeing the fully packed auditorium and so many Americans who were deeply attracted to Chinese culture, I felt indescribably happy. I thought: this culture and arts show not only presented colorful Chinese culture, but also revealed their spiritual and cultural character. Don’t underestimate the impact of a variety show; it brought the American students closer to Chinese culture.


Confucius Institute Magazine 11

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 11. Volume VI. November 2010.
View/Download the print issue in PDF

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