April 17, 2006

China Night in Statler Delights

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China Night, a series of performances celebrating Chinese and Chinese-American culture, drew Cornell students and community members to the Statler Auditorium Saturday evening.

“China Night is the largest cultural show on campus,” said Susan Duan ’09, co-cultural chair of the Chinese Students Association (CSA), and one of the evening’s organizers. “It is a mix of modern and traditional [Chinese culture].”

The show is a long-running tradition in the CSA. There has been a China Night every year for the past 20 to 30 years, according to Katrina Shum ’08, also CSA co-cultural chair and China Night’s other main planner.

The evening was a multimedia exposition, with performances spanning the full range of the fine and performance arts.

The first part of the show opened with a traditional Chinese Lion Dance, as well as a fan dance by the Illuminations Dance Troupe, a student-run group; an a cappella performance of Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Unwritten” by six CU students; a step show by the brothers of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity; another fan dance by the toddlers of the Lotus Dance Troupe; the annual fashion show, a mainstay of China Night; a solo performance of Josh Groban’s “Broken Vow” by Edward Ha ’09; and the first act of “A Play by Johnny Ting.”

As its name suggests, this play was written and directed by Johnny Ting ’05 and dealt with familiar themes to China Night goers: “an Asian-American trying to make his way in this harsh, harsh Caucasian world,” as Michael Lee ’06, CSA vice president and one of the three emcees for the evening, put it.

Ting’s play’s missed no opportunity to poke fun at many facets of the lives of Asian-American Cornell students.

“The play was probably the best part,” said Richard Jin ’09, one of those in attendance. “[Ting] is really observant on all the pet peeves of Asian culture,”

Following intermission, the second part of the evening opened with the second act of Ting’s play. This half featured a performance of “Battle Against the Typhoon” by Theresa Chan ’06 on the Gu Zheng, a harp-like traditional Chinese instrument with a distinct sound; a performance of the Chinese pop song “Tong Hua” by Ian Fung ’09; a Mongolian dance by the Illuminations troupe; a yo-yo performance by Nathan Chun ’09; a performance of two songs by the all-Asian a cappella group FantAsia; and a hip-hop dance performance by the CSA Hip Hop Troupe.

Chun’s dexterous yo-yo work came in place of the traditional Chinese yo-yo. Most of the people in the auditorium were on their feet cheering Chun along while trying to keep up with his fast-paced tricks.

“We really liked the yo-yo guy,” said Lindsay Du ’07 after the show.

“He shows what hidden talents we have here at Cornell,” said Benny Leung ’07.

Even though it had its share of recorded video, this year’s China Night focused more on live performance than last year’s did, according to Shum. This push was evidenced in Lee’s opening remarks.

“We usually start out with a long presidential speech, but we’ve decided to cut all that,” he told the crowd.

China Night is the CSA’s centerpiece event each year. In addition, the group performs philanthropic work such as blood drives, Duan said.

Archived article by Chris Barnes
Sun Staff Writer