Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chinese Spring Festival has sprung!

I love small events, like the ones we get at our local libraries. Not small in their own context, but small compared to Woodstock and major sports things and state fairs and that sort of group insanity. I'm not much for huge crowds and noise and movement and overwhelming numbers of things happening at once.

In fact I thought Woodstock was too childish and silly for words, being a couple of years older than the people who flocked there to roll about in the mud and smoke weed, and since I had a young baby I figured I was doing something far more worth doing, very lofty about it all. I notice how many millions of people now claim to have been the joke about how there are thousands of Rembrandt paintings in the US, far more than he ever actually painted...

Anyway, one of our local libes, not the one in our town, but the next town over, where I've spent many happy hours chatting and browsing, had its annual Chinese Spring Festival yesterday, very charming stuff, with talents ranging from world class classical musicians to middle aged ladies doing their seated fitness routine, all warmly received and applauded.

Though there were maybe eight caucasians there including Indian families, did you know they are caucasian, too, well they are....where was I, oh yes, with exquisite politeness all the acts and performances were introduced both in Chinese and in English. Much appreciated.

There were Chinese ink painters, one happily whipping out paintings of tigers for the Year of the Tiger, one doing calligraphy, after studying his book of notes. The calligrapher, a very old gentleman, was great to watch, such a lesson in focus: first he thought about the phrase he was going to paint, then he studied the blank page, then poised the brush for a few seconds, then plunged in unhesitatingly through the figure.

And there were various food items, which I left to the kids, of whom there were a lot. And traditional beading, and games for kids to learn how to use chopsticks using marshmallows.

There was the local Chinese School yo-yo team, in groups ranging from very young

to teenage experts,

juggling with diabolos, switching back and forth to each other, making them travel around their own bodies, then all tossing at once, very impressive stuff for youngsters.

Lion dance, parades, all kinds of chances for little kids to wear their costumes

And the Yuan Yuan group of middle aged ladies, doing what looked like Andy's upper body exercises, seated movements, with the accompaniment of taped Chinese drumming, very exciting.

I had found a folded chair in the corner, and unfolded it to sit, since all the other chairs were taken, and when this group appeared, they made for my corner and one said, so sorry, your chair needed for dance routine! so I moved over, wondering how chairs were to feature in a dance routine.

The dancers wore red tshirts and black pants, a jingle bell bracelet on each left wrist and a jingle bell anklet for each, so there was a lot of belling as they did their moves, including a hilarious wave, from one end to the other of the line of 12 women.

At one point, one of the bells flew off the ankle of a "dancer" and landed in the open palm of a little girl on the floor, who looked stagamazed at where this could have come from. Her friend explained, and she tried to give it back in the middle of the performance! but was persuaded to wait till the end. The audience loved this group, clapped and stamped along.

At the other end of the spectrum, a great musical ensemble of Chinese instruments, flute, several stringed instruments, percussion and bells, just excellent musicians, the flute player in particular was stunningly good.

And the written music of course was in Chinese notation, not western, so I hope I was able to get that picture clear enough for you to see it.

I have not heard a lot of Chinese music, but the energy and virtuosity of this group was unmistakeably good, very lucky for me to have chanced into the library at the right time.

Not to mention lucky to live in a community where this kind of thing happens.


  1. Related to what you said about Woodstock. It happened our first year in NY and we considered going but we had two young children, one still in diapers, and was turned off by all the traffic jam reports. I regret to this day that we didn't go.

    Mostly writing this to see if I can post. Never have been able to any time I've tried.


  2. Sounds like you had a lovely time. Nice.

  3. Love how you've seen, appreciated and shared this event - so well done! Now I've got to try to remember to use the word "stagamazed" --(opportunity abounds around here!)


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