USCPFA Header

Owensboro/Evansville Chapter Page

HEILONGJIANG CHINESE FOLK DANCERS CHARM KENTUCKIANS

by Winny Lin , President of Owensboro/Evansville Chapter

Have you herd the new saying, “The world has become flat!”?  That is definitely true, when it came to Chinese New Year celebration in Owensboro , Kentucky .  A group of Chinese folk dancers came all the way from Harbin , the capital of Heilongjiang Province to help the Kentuckians celebrate the Year of the Dog.  They brought their beautiful art form, charmed their American friends, and bridged geographic distances.

            On the Chinese New Year’s Day, Jan. 29, Sunday, four dancers from Heilongjiang School of Performing Arts arrived in Owensboro , and performed an hour of 8 different ethnic dances to a sold out audience at First Presbyterian Church.  Many people drove from the neighboring cities, Evansville , Henderson , and Newburgh , to experience the joyful cultural event.  Among 200 guests, many were American families with their adopted Chinese girls.  All the children present that night received a red lucky envelope with one Chinese RMB from Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson and First Presbyterian Church pastor, Rev. Jonathan Carroll.  A traditional Chinese dinner was catered by a local Chinese restaurant, Ho us e of Canton . As the mayor presented the key to the city, the group also opened the hearts of Kentuckians!

            The next two days, Jan. 30, and Jan. 31, the dance  troupe visited 8 different schools in Owensboro and Lewisport, Kentucky, which included Audubon, , East View, Sorgho, Tamarack, North Hancock Elementary Schools, Burns Middle School,  Daviess County Middle School, and Daviess County High School. Over 5000 students have been introduced to the Chinese folk dances and fell in love with the slim and beautiful dancers, their lively m us ic, exquisite colorful costumes, and the  intriguing dance steps.

            Heilongjiang School of Performing Arts is located in Harbin, home of the world renowned Ice Sculpture Festival. The school offers classes of Beijing opera performance, Chinese traditional dance performance, international standard dance, wind band and keyboard instrument performance, and painting. It has 156 teachers and 2285 students.  During their Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) break, Cal Jin-zheng, president of the performing arts school and the choreographer, Qiao Liang, accompanied four dance students, 3 female and 1 male, to visit Kentucky .  Their friend from their hometown, Hong Shao , event coordinator of University of Kentucky Singletary Performing Center , brought them to Owensboro at the invitation of USCPFA Owensboro/Evansville Chapter.

            The dance troupe presented a captivating performance of a collection of dances from China .  The repertoire consists of   dances representing several people and geographic location of 56 Chinese ethnic races.           

            The first dance, “Shao Duo Li”, represents Dai minority people who live in the southwest part of China .  The title of this traditional Dai folk dance means “young girl” in the Dai language. The tight skirts the dancers wear are a traditional costume. In spite of the tight skirts, these dancers were extraordinarily lively—making animated and exaggerated eye movements, vario us jumps, hops and bends and engaging smiles.  With their props—a red flower and a long stick, three gorgeo us Chinese teenage dancers opened their performance with a bang.

            “A Ga Mu” is a traditional Yi folk dance.  Yi minority people live in the mountains in southwest China .  They have their unique culture, traditions, especially costumes and dances.  The Yi people worship fire.  The colorful skirt and the head decoration are particular characteristics of the Yi people.  The pleasurable m us ic, the brisk rhythm, and the happy Yi girl dancing with her bright skirt deliver a cheerful emotion and bright visualization.

            The only male dancer in the group presented “A Lovely Rose” which represents the Kazakhs people in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomo us Region.  The people are famo us for their fierce love of freedom, skillful horse riding, and singing and dancing.  Their dance us ually employs techniques such as “shoulder movements” and “horse steps” with strong rhythm.  In this piece, a young man dances while playing the Kazakhs traditional m us ic instrument, Dongbula,  to express his love.

            Other dances included Korean Fan Dance, Bowl Dance, Danquing and Fan Dance, and Dance of a Mongolian Girl. The finale is award-winning “Spring Festival” which is a special dance for Chinese New Year celebration.  The performers in bright yellow, green, red costumes tossed, twirled their color-matching handkerchiefs to create waves, flowers, butterflies and other forms for a fantastic display. Last, they threw their handkerchiefs like rapid flying saucers to the screaming audience, and gave Chinese souvenirs when the lucky ones return their handkerchiefs.  The lively dance gave quite a stir and excitement before they concluded their thrilling performance.

            The performers consisted of three 17-yr-old female dance students and one 20-yr-old male dancer.  During their 3-day stay in Owensboro , they have made friends with the teenagers in their American host family, watched a high school dance team performing at a basketball game, and tasted a variety of American foods.  Ice cream and salads were among their favorites.  They also enjoyed communicating with American teenagers through sign language and a talking dictionary.

On the flipping side of the coin, the Americans were amazed by the variety of Chinese folk dances and learned that China is as multicultural as the United States of America

            What a good cultural experience!

 

 

 

The Davies County Public Schools Grapevine has a great article about this event, See the 6 Page PDF document with pictures and more. Careful though, it is a large 1.4mb file so it will take a while to download if you are on dialup. Grapevine, A World of Friendship.

 

Back to Owensboro/Evansville Chapter Main Page.

USCPFA Home
US China Review
National Tours
Chapters & Regions
What is the USCPFA
Center for Teaching about China (CTAC)
Events & News
Contact USCPFA

Copyright 2011 USCPFA, This Page Last Updated: February 21, 2011