The Shanghai Quartet visited Bailey Hall on Saturday for a riveting performance that had some of the rough-and-tumble feel of a rock concert. To open the performance, the quartet took on Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, K. 421, setting an elegant yet chipper tone for the concert. They dallied with the first movement’s lightsome runs with a tempered gusto. In the Andante that followed, however, the quartet attacked a dark counterpoint, allowing it to well up with an unexpectedly inward melancholy. When the counterpoint motif came back, they erupted in a startling, hall-reverberating crescendo that brilliantly shattered the remaining façade of delicate composure the piece had initially created.
Drum roll. The audience at the State Theater was absolutely silent — anxious with anticipation — waiting for what would be the grand finale of the Golden Dragon Acrobats’ dynamo performance last Saturday.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to see is incredibly dangerous. Please, do not try this at home.”
Huh … they’re saying that now? The first two hours of the performance had already seen a multitude of acrobatic feats that, performed by lesser-trained individuals, would have resulted in any number of injuries, as mild as hernias or as severe as broken bones.
The Olympics open in twelve days. You could say that Beijing is putting the final touches on what it hopes will be a masterpiece, a sign of China’s rising power and ascension to an important global position. Yet these preparations have cut widely and deeply into the daily lives of those who live in and around Beijing.
Far from the fluorescent lights of Shanghai and the history-laden streets of Beijing lies a starkly different China — a China where bicycles are more prevalent than cars and where private family homes with adjoining small farms are more common than sky-high apartment buildings.
Walking down the streets of Beijing is a surreal experience. There are times when it doesn’t even seem like you’re in the same country, let alone same city. On the one hand there are towers of steel and glass and deluxe shopping malls with high-powered brand names pasted on the walls, but there are also areas of poverty, where resident are just waiting for an eviction order to make way for the next shiny development.
To see Zhang Ziyi onscreen is to recognize her as a cinematic presence. The star of films such as House of Flying Daggers and (most famously) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is not so much an actress as an iconic figure of the martial arts genre—a feminine beauty that is capable of terrifying strength when the occasion calls. She can dance, yes, but she can also kick.
Like a waving silk ribbon, the crowd flowed up and down, up and down with a rhythm of passion and consistency. There were infants, parents, students, grandparents, workers, vagabonds, sports teams, security guards, corporate sponsors, ambassadors and too many other attendees to count or describe.
“Adversities only make our country stronger,” the leadership of the All-China Students Federation told the Ivy League Student Delegation in a heartfelt recap of the devastation caused by the Wenchuan Earthquake – a natural disaster that has since left over 65,000 Chinese residents of the Sichuan Province dead, over 4.8 million homeless and over 23,000 missing.
The air was damp and the view clouded by smog, but at about 10:30 p.m. on May 27, 25 students from eight U.S. colleges and universities entered the Capital Hotel in the central city of Beijing, the capital of China. After travelling for 13 hours before landing at the ultra-sustainable Beijing Airport, the students, part of the first-ever Ivy League Student Delegation, enthusiastically began their 10-day excursion through Mainland China.