Spring Festival celebrations for the Year of the Rat were hosted at UCD's O'Reilly Hall yesterday evening with over 1,000 guests in attendence. Amongst those present at the celebrations were our own University President Dr. Hugh Brady and Mr. Liu Biwei, the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland.
Dr. Liming Wang has often expressed his determination to make The Chinese Spring Festival at UCD an annual event to celebrate the Chinese New Year and “introduce Chinese culture to more and more Irish friends”. This year’s gala show for the new Chinese Year of the Rat at the O’Reilly Hall on February 8th continued the tradition established in 2007 and was a warm, welcoming and very popular event attended by over 1,000 people.
Sweet as honey
The show proper was opened by a group of Year 1 girls from Loreto Secondary School, who sang the well-known Chinese pop song ‘Tian mi mi’ (Sweet as honey). Mr. Yang Hong of the Chengdu Opera Troupe (UN Cultural Heritage Award winner) then thrilled the audience with a performance of fast ‘face-changing’ with masks, one of the oldest art-forms of the Sichuan Opera tradition.
Hand shadow show
More artists of the Chengdu Opera Troupe followed: Ms. Liu Li’s dance was based on traditional choreography (Shuixiu Wu); Mr. Shao Jiangui gave a marvellous hand-shadow performance (Shou Ying); Sichuan Province Professional Acrobatics Competition Gold Medal winner Ms. Hu Jiayue astonished onlookers with a performance of acrobatic skill (Baixi); Mr. Wu Hua sang beautiful traditional Chinese songs; Mr. King Zeyong gave the audience their first introduction to Kong Fu Tea.
The artists of the Chengdu Opera Troupe participated in the gala performance courtesy of the Chinese Irish Cultural Academy.
The rat loves to eat rice
The second half of the performance began with UCD BComm Chinese students singing the Chinese pop song ‘Laoshu ai da mi’ (The rat loves to eat rice), after which came a performance by the Beijing Bailing Shadow Puppet Troupe. Shadow puppetry is one of the rare treasures of the Chinese performing arts and is unfortunately known to be dying out as China experiences rapid economic growth and cultural change. Shadow puppetry first appeared in Beijing around 500 years ago during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The Beijing Bailing Shadow Puppet Troupe is the only remaining professional performing troupe in the world and appeared courtesy of China Arts UK.