Performance traditions are presented in this program in two venues—one highlights the informal and participatory nature of traditional arts in everyday life; the other provides a more formal format.
From People’s Park in Chengdu to Purple Bamboo Park in Beijing, China’s urban parks are sites where people demonstrate the art of everyday living.
These parks are teeming, vibrant public gathering places, where people regularly gather together for collective exercising, music-making, opera, dancing, game-playing, and socializing. In this common space, people of all ages and occupations actively and unselfconsciously share traditional arts and cultural practices.
Daily activities in the China Festival program’s People’s Park included dancing, games, and martial arts.
In recognition of the significance of the moon and reunion in Chinese culture, this program’s Moonrise Pavilion brought together a wide range of traditional music, theater, song, and dance forms. Performers on this stage included representatives from China’s majority Han population, such as members of the Wu Opera Troupe from Zhejiang Province and the Quanzhou Puppet Troupe from Fujian Province, as well as from some of China’s fifty-five ethnic minorities, such as Miao, Dong, and Qiang singers from Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, singers of hua’er songs from Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and musicians from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Although China officially adopted the Gregorian solar calendar in 1929—marking the 365 days it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun—it still observes a lunar calendar of 354 days—marking the 29.5 days (roughly one month) it takes to cycle from one new moon to the next. The Chinese word for “month,” 月(yue), derives from the word for “moon,” 月亮 (yue liang), just as the English word “month” derives from the word “moon.”
Seasonal festivals bring people together. The roundness of the full moon and the completeness of a reunited family are echoed in the round tables at which Chinese meals are traditionally eaten. Those separated by distance feel connection through the act of gazing at the same moon.