Students Reflect on UMass Chinese Acrobat Performance

On October 26, Rita Plouffe’s Chinese I, II, and III classes and Colin Mann’s Bass Chorus visited the UMass Fine Arts Center to watch a Chinese culture dance and music performance called “Chinese Warriors of Peking.”

Chinese acrobatics were first recorded in the Qin Dynasty (225-207 BC) when China was unified by the first Emperor Qishihuang. “Chinese Warriors of Peking” is based on a festival that took place during the Ming dynasty between 1368 and 1644. The emperor held an annual martial arts tournament in Beijing, inviting warriors from all over the country to attend. In Tianqiao Square, a large crowd was drawn to witness the warriors demonstrating their impressive skills. Every school in the discipline of martial art arrived in Beijing from all over China.

After the trip, Willison students shared what they like about the performance. They also compared the similarities and differences between Chinese and U.S. cultures. One student said, “I was able to learn about many aspects of Chinese culture. The set design and the background showed the traditional Chinese colors, prints, and fonts. Many of the props that were used by the performers also showed aspects of traditional Chinese culture. The traditional Chinese songs playing in the background were made by Chinese instruments.”

“This Chinese circus performance was very similar to the one I saw when I was in China,” said another student. “I really liked their hula hoop performance, as they had to jump through small hula hoops onto a gymnast’s bar. At this performance, students had the opportunity to experience first-hand Chinese history through traditional Chinese dances and martial art. They left the theatre with a stronger understanding of what a quality, traditional Chinese performance looks like as well as a glimpse into what life might have been like in ancient China.”