SANFORD — Ethnic dances and music from China’s Hunan Province moved the audience of almost 800 from spellbound admiration to enthusiastic applause and cheers Sunday at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.
“It was wonderful,” said Jose Plata, who came from Siler City with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two young sons to see the performance. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. I hope they come back.”
Central Carolina Community College’s Confucius Classroom hosted the free performance by the Ethnic Arts Troupe of Jishou University’s College of Music and Dance from the People’s Republic of China. CCCC was able to bring the show to Sanford through its partnership with North Carolina State University’s Confucius Institute.
“I’m sure this performance was one of the most exciting and unique Sanford has ever seen,” said Celia Hurley, CCCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement.
For an hour and a half, the performers dazzled the audience with dances that ranged from graceful and swirling to dynamic and boldly rhythmic. All were traditional dances of the ethnic peoples of Hunan Province, primarily the Miao and Tujia, performed in colorful ethnic costumes. The university is located in Hunan and all the performers were faculty and students of the college.
Performances on the Chinese piano, flute and dulcimer added to the richness and variety of the program. It also included exhibitions of Chinese kung fu martial arts with leaps, flips and sword wielding demonstrating fitness, stamina and grace. One of the martial arts performers amazed the audience with a sword-swallowing feat.
At the end of the show, the large audience, which included people from as far away as West Virginia and Lexington, N.C., rose to its feet and gave the troupe a standing ovation. Then the audience was invited on-stage to meet the performers one-on-one.
“It was marvelous,” said Betty Robinson, of Carolina Trace. “I especially enjoyed the dances in humorous mode. The variety of costumes from the province was delightful. The man sitting next to me came from Asheboro to see the show and said he was thrilled with it.”
Both NCSU’s Confucius Institute and the college’s Confucius Classroom were established in collaboration with Han Ban, the Chinese Language Council International office, to promote the study of Chinese Mandarin language and to increase awareness and understanding of Chinese culture. CCCC’s Confucius Classroom was established in 2009, with Professor Shuya Che, of Nanjing University, as the instructor.
Five administrators from Jishou University, including Vice President Xiaoxian Cao, accompanied the faculty and student performers to the United States.
“We came to share this performance through our partnership with North Carolina State University,” Cao said. “We want to strengthen our friendship with the university and Central Carolina Community College through communication — dancing and music is a communication bridge.”
Faculty of the College of Music and Dance introduced each number in Chinese and Anna Lamm, deputy director of NCSU’s Confucius Institute, translated the introduction into English. As the program progressed, scenic pictures of Hunan Province were shown on large screens at both sides of the stage.
“The Ethnic Arts Troupe put on a beautiful program,” said CCCC Vice President Lisa Chapman, who is over the college’s Confucius Classroom. “This performance helps us to appreciate the fact that there are varied cultures within China just as there are in the United States. It also helps us grow in understanding of the variety of cultures throughout the world.”
Chapman said the Confucius Classroom is helping the college’s students to gain greater understanding and appreciation of their neighbors in other nations and on other continents. That is important because these are the people with whom Americans are working in a global economy.
For more information about CCCC’s Confucius Classroom, visit www.cccc.edu/confucius
or call (919) 718-7386 or (919) 718-7376.