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Confucius Institute brings Chinese dance troupe to campus

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The Confucius Institute brought in a Chinese dance troupe from Capital Normal University to perform in the Ritsche Auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

The Confucius Institute is centered around promoting Chinese language and Chinese immersion programs not only in and around Central Minnesota, but globally. This is the third venue that the dance troupe has performed in recently, and soon they will be on their way to perform in Chicago and then in Iowa.

“For one, I really had hoped that people would enjoy the evening and learn more about traditional dance, music and the instruments played,” said Kathy Johnson, director of the SCSU Confucius Institute. “As China has such a rich history, and the culture of China has such a different culture than American culture, it was an opportunity to experience it.”

Her goal for the event was “to celebrate the culture of China” and to “spark an interest of China in students, [and] faculty members.”

She added, “When you spark that interest, they may be more willing to learn about China.”

The event was two hours long and had over 11 different performances, including Chinese calligraphy, Peking Opera, the traditional Paper Cutting Girls folk dance and more.

“When there is a Chinese performance, there is always something you have never seen before,” said audience member Lah Pwee. Mary Kruger, a member of the audience, said that she was excited to have come to see the performance.

“I think it is important to be exposed to as many cultures as possible,” Kruger said.

Over the course of the evening, the troupe performed different types of traditional dances, instrumental music pieces and interactive quizzes with the audience.

The Peking Opera–a form of opera that consists of speech, mime and singing–was by far a favorite of the audience.

“I like all the acts,” said Lyu Meng-Jia, director of the dance troupe and emcee of the event. “For me, I think the Peking Opera is most impressive.”

There were two different segments during the course of the performance with audience interaction. First, after the Chinese instrumental orchestra played “Espana Cani,” the audience was quizzed on which instruments made which sounds.

The audience was enthralled with the concept of a contest and quickly jumped to answer each question as soon as it was posed. Answering with the Chinese names of the instruments wasn’t difficult for some in the audience.

Over 500 people showed up to see the dance troupe.

“Our target was about 500 people in all, and I think we met or surpassed that,” Johnson said. Some of the attendees included a group from the St. Michael-Albertville school district, where some students are a part of a Chinese immersion program. 

“A number of families who have children in the Chinese immersion program attended,” Johnson said. “And we had a representative from each of the Confucius classrooms in attendance.” 

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