Last night a full house at the Octagon theatre witnessed a stunning presentation by 24 teachers and students from China’s Zhejiang Art Academy. Beautiful dance, astonishing music and spectacular staging came together in a Chinese cultural feast that was enjoyed by an appreciative audience of more than 600 people, including the Consul-General of Perth and representatives from the University of Western Australia and the State Government.
The performance celebrated two important events: Confucius Institute Day and the 30th Anniversary of the Sister State relationship between Western Australia and Zhejiang Province. An effective marketing campaign resulted in tickets selling out four days before the event and there was a waitlist of people hoping for an opportunity to see the show.
This highly anticipated performance was a great success. The opening dance, Ancient Dance in New Rhythm showcased the amazing skills of the dancers and was followed by a diverse program of beautiful dance interwoven with extraordinary music played on Chinese traditional instruments by incredibly accomplished musicians. The program drew inspiration from the cultural traditions of many different ethnic groups from across china, from Tibet to Yunan to Mongolia, and to the She people of Zhejiang and Fujian province.
A special highlight was the Australian rock number by AC/DC, Thunderstruck, played on the pipa, erhu, guzheng, dizi. This piece resonated strongly with the audience – as they recognised the distinctive melody a delighted murmur spread through the theatre, followed by enthusiastic applause.
The finale of Heavenly West Lake, invited visitors from around the world to visit Hangzhou and experience its vibrancy and beauty for themselves.
The Zhejiang Art Academy has toured to the USA, Europe and Japan, but this was their first visit to Australia. They undertook months of preparation, including rehearsing during their summer holidays. This effort was rewarded with a fantastic performance that was greatly enjoyed by Perth locals.
The Confucius Institute hopes that in presenting events such as this we will provide opportunities for cultural exchange. To strengthen the exchange potential, we invited primary school students from Methodist Ladies’ College, Penrhos College and Oberthur to perform Chinese song and dance as part of the performance. The Academy will also visit three schools while in Perth, performing to another 1,400 people.
In addition, the Confucius Institute invited a local Noongar elder, Walter McGuire, to welcome the performers and audience onto Noongar land at the start of the show. All these different elements are part of our commitment to promoting cultural diversity and fostering cultural understanding and exchange.
We are proud that there has been strong demand for the Confucius Institute’s services. We now have 25 Chinese volunteers working with nearly 40 schools across WA, supporting their Chinese language programs. We are also actively engaged in local cultural activities, especially for Chinese New Year and Mid-autumn Festival, but also at many multi-cultural festivals and events across the vast State of Western Australia right throughout the year.
Photographs: Richard Watson and Joel Miller