The 10th CIFAF（in Xining）
International Fashion on Stage for Common Folks
——An Overview of 10th China International Folk Arts Festival
Opening Ceremony Jointly Launched by LUO Fuhe, ZHAO Shi and WANG Guosheng
An Extravaganza of Global Arts helped to spread friendship, promote folk arts and build up the ‘Qinghai-Tibet Dream’. In August, the 10th China International Folk Arts Festival(CIFAF), jointly sponsored by CFLAC and Qinghai Provincial Government and organized by Xining Municipal Government in association with Qinghai Federation of Literary and Art Circles, was held in Xining City, Qinghai Province. Including China, 13 countries sent about 300 artists who were different in races, languages and complexions. They went through urban and rural areas of Xining, gave performances in theaters and on open-air stages, and brought to the common people of Xining unique and characteristic folk arts from all over the five continents. By highlighting its global, national, folkloric and people-oriented features, CIFAF has provided a platform for Chinese and foreign artists to enhance mutual understanding and exchange art skills. It has also enriched cultural and spiritual experiences of the local people, resulting in their elevated sense of happiness. Thus, CIFAF has injected significant impetus to the exchange and convergence of Chinese arts and culture with those from the rest of the world.
On the evening of August 8, the 10th CIFAF held its grand opening in Xining City, Qinghai Province.
About 300 artists from 12 countries around the world went on stage with Chinese artists and gave colorful singing and dancing performances of different nations, presenting an art extravaganza of international fashion, national features and folkloric characteristics to the local audience.
Ode to Joy Jointly Presented by All Participant Artists at the 10th CIFAF
300 Artists from 13 Countries Rendezvoused in Xining
Since its inauguration in 1990, CIFAF has taken on ‘art, friendship and peace’ as its theme and provided a multilateral platform for international art exchanges. 149 troupes from 63 countries have participated in and gave performances at the festivals, which has fully showcased global, national, folkloric and people- oriented features, and significantly contributed to the spreading of national and folk arts of different countries, promoting exchange and cooperation between Chinese and foreign artists, and enriching cultural experiences of the common people.
Mr. HAO Peng, Governor and Deputy Secretary-General of the CPC (Communist Party of China) Committee of Qinghai Province, introduced Qinghai Province and Xining City to the foreign artists. He noted that Qinghai, one of the birth places for Chinese civilization, is a transportation hub along the ancient Silk Road and Tang-Tibet Passage. It has a longstanding history, multiple ethnic groups, profound heritage and perse cultures. The Lajia site and Liuwan painted pottery testify for the splendid pre-historic civilization in the Hehuang region. The heroic epic King Gesar has been resounding over the grass land for long. Folk art treasures such as Tibetan embroideries, Tibetan jewels, Tangka (Tibetan Buddhism scroll paintings) and butter sculpture have been rejuvenated after generations of inheritance. Qinghai people, regardless of their ethnic identity, are talented for singing and dancing. There are the high-pitched folk singing of ‘Hua’er’, the humorous festive dances of ‘Shehuo’, the swirling Tu-ethnic dances of ‘Anzhao’, the cordial and vehement Sala-ethnic singing of ‘Xinqu’, the crisp and sweet Tibetan singing of ‘Layi’, all of which demonstrate profound ethnic features and natural beauty, and constitute a strong bond for a common spiritual homeland and the unified development among all ethnic groups. Mr. HAO pointed out that the choice of Xining as the host city for the 10th China International Folk Art Festival was a solid proof of CFLAC’s caring for and support to Qinghai’s cultural development. Qinghai would surely grasp this opportunity, to strengthen its drive for the position of a prominent cultural province, to cultivate its featured cultural brands, to promote the development and prosperity of folk arts, and to fully utilize folk arts’ power in carrying forward civilization, forging upright spirits and encouraging national endeavors. Mr. HAO said that arts and friendship know no boundaries. The splendid 5-day performances by art troupes from 13 countries would be an extravaganza of international folk arts and offer the Qinghai people a full taste of various ethnic cultures from all around the world. They had every reason to believe that the 10th CIFAF would turn out to be a celebration of both folk arts and friendly exchanges, and contribute to amity of the peoples as well as the world peace.
Acrobatic Program Concerto & Rhapsody of Black and White by China National Acrobatic Troupe
The 12 foreign art troupes invited to the 10th CIFAF included both the younger generation groups, such as the ‘Written in the Stars’ girls' choir of Finland, the ‘Seytek’ dance team of the National Center for Children and Youth under the National Exemplary Choreographic Ensemble of Kyrgyzstan, and American ‘Randy Hansen and the Angry Neighbors’ band whose members had over 20 years of performance history. There were dance teams such as the ‘Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers’ folk dance team of South Africa and the ‘Dream Dance’ Company of Korea, the ‘Titanic Dance’ tap dance group of Ireland who had the specialty of combined styles of traditional and modern dances, and musical bands such as the ‘Escalandrum’ band from Argentina and the ‘Skyblasters’ band from Netherlands. All in all, this was a gathering of young, middle-aged and senior artists in full spectrum of singing, dancing and instrument playing.
This marked the first time for CIFAF to set foot onto the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Qinghai Province takes its name from the Qinghai Lake. It is a land of multiple ethnic groups blessed with the harmony of multiple religions, the joint development of perse cultures, and the benefits of profound traditions. Xining City, the political, economic and cultural center of Qinghai Province and host city for CIFAF, is located at the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an altitude of 2261 meters above sea level. It has a history of over 2000 years in which it functioned as a major commerce hub along the legendary ancient Silk Road, a stronghold connecting the central plains with the western regions of China, and a gateway town to Xinjiang and Tibet. There are 48 ethnic groups, including Han people, the Tibetan, the Hui (Muslim Chinese), the Tu and the Sala peoples. It is truly a big family with multiple ethnic groups and perse cultures.
The Chinese Song Nanniwan by Skyblasters' Band from Netherlands
Multiple ethnic groups and perse cultures add colorful features to the Xininng City. Flying into Xining, one quickly sees local people’s efforts to conserve the environment and build up a beautiful homestead over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The once-sterile mountain slopes now grow with plenty of trees, by which one’s stereotype impression of a deserted sandy plateau is fundamentally changed. In Xining, the unique local food has to be mentioned. People cannot let go of them, such as the tender mutton without any sheep odor, the ‘Goujiaoniao’ thin pan cakes, the ‘Niangpi’ steamed-flour noodle covered with layers of red hot peppers. After the initial impact and fascination of the first day in Xining gradually pacifies, one might feel the altitude sickness creeping onto the forehead, which really puts up a test to the mind and will of those foreign artists. Just after the lady singer in the ‘Skyblaster’ band from Netherland expressed her sincere desire to exchange experiences with the Chinese folk artists and sang the famous Chinese song of ‘Nanniwan’ at the opening gala, she fell prey to altitude sickness. In the following days for out-door performances, to relieve the symptoms of dizziness and nausea, she had to take in oxygen before going onto the stage. Nevertheless, once onto stage, she was immediately full of smiles. From time to time, she even went down into the audience and had close interactions with the crowd. Mr. David McLaughlin, chief of the ‘Titanic Dance’ group of Ireland made full preparations physically and spiritually before his China tour. He considered himself lucky, as his body experienced no discomfort whatsoever. For five full days, he was able to enjoy all the fun of art exchanges.
This CIFAF was a grand occasion of international cultural exchange to promote the ‘One Belt and One Road’ Initiative. It was also an important opportunity for the Western part of China to demonstrate its great achievement of ‘Opening up and Reform’ and to parade the local people’s spiritual outlook. It surely contributed to the preservation of cultural persity, the protection and inheritance of national folk arts, the exchange and mutual learning between different regions and national cultures, and ultimately, the progress and prosperity of world culture.
Dance Drum Rhythm by Dream Dance Company of Korea
From Theaters to Plazas, Xining Became a Sea of Arts
The 10th CIFAF held its opening ceremony and the grand gala on August 8. The first program was the Welcome Chants by the Song & Dance Ensemble of Xining Opera House. Passionate dances created a festive mood and offered heartfelt welcome to foreign artists. Then, all visiting art troupes came onto stage one after another to present the best of their repertoires. There were the Kabu Ni Vanua Traditional Meke dance group of Fiji, the Ragini Makkhar & Naadyog dance group of India, the ‘Titanic Dance’ group of Ireland, the Dream Dance Company of Korea, the ‘Seytek’ dance team of the National Center for Children and Youth under the National Exemplary Choreographic Ensemble of Kyrgyzstan, the ‘Desire Francois et Cassiya’ group of Mauritius, the National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of Mongolia, and the ‘Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers’ of South Africa. These folk dance troupes, though from different nations, in different races and with different complexions, by their wonderful dance languages, all told stories about the same themes, i.e., peace, friendship and joy. The ‘Escalandrum’ band of Argentina, the ‘Written in the Stars’ girls' choir of Finland, the ‘Skyblasters’ band of the Netherlands and the ‘Randy Hansen, and the Angry Neighbors’ band of USA provided a music feast for the audiences in Qinghai Grand Theater. Indulging themselves in this sea of singing and dancing, the audiences were all fascinated.
Meke Dance by Kabu Ni Vanua Traditional Dance Group of Fiji
The famous Chinese singers, Mr. LV Jihong and Ms ZHENG Yong presented their singings of 'Love of Homeland' and 'A Sleepless Night' respectively. Ms Alu Azhuo and the ‘Mountain Wind’ group brought a song of 'Blue Lotus'. By their performances, the visiting foreign artists really enjoyed the unique charms of Chinese national arts. The Concerto & Rhapsody of Black and White, a show of men’s acrobatic skills by China National Acrobatic Troupe, showcased such strength and beauty that astounded all the audiences. The grand gala drew to an end in the finale program of 'Ode to Joy' by the Star Youth Art Troupe of Xining People’s Arts Group together with all the participating Chinese and foreign artists.
After the opening ceremony and through the rest of the festival, a series of ‘Walk into the Common People’ tour performances were held. On August 9, foreign art troupes were pided into small groups and presented excellent performances to Xining citizens in three urban districts. On August 10, the foreign art troupes went even further into three rural counties of Xining, namely Huangyuan, Huangzhong and Datong. Thus, the local people were able to enjoy real-time face-to-face shows from abroad. On August 12, the closing ceremony was held at the outdoor theater of ‘Grand Stage of the Common Folks’ in the Central Plaza of Chengzhong District of Xining. It was also a grand celebration by all the Chinese and foreign artists.
Ode to Joy Dedicated by Star Youth Art Troupe of Xining People’s Arts Group
CIFAF is held every three years. There have been nine successful festivals before this one. As China’s only national-level festival for international folk arts, it has received cordial welcome and active participation by artists from all around the world. Since its inauguration, a total of over 3000 artists and several million on- site audiences have enjoyed the festival.
Art and friendship know no boundaries. After the launch of the 10th CIFAF on August 8, Chinese and foreign art troupes presented colorful and beautiful performances to the Xining people for five days. The artists and the common people, regardless of their ages, genders, languages and complexions, joined hands and hearts in showcasing splendor of arts from various countries. During the same period, the ‘Beautiful Qinghai’ photo exhibition and local sightseeing activities presented the foreign artists with an authentic and vibrant Qinghai for peace and development.
Language barriers can not diminish the communication power of arts. One can see a white-haired Chinese aunty in a friendly competition of public square dances with the Indian artists. During the festival period, artists staged excellent performances and had passionate interactions with local audiences, which filled every corner of Xining with joyful songs and laughter.
Dream Dance Company of Korea Toured in Huangzhong County of Qinghai Province
‘People working in the city took a special leave. Those working in the farms stopped their labor. For the first time in our lives, we can see foreign artists’ performances at our door steps. No one would miss it.’ said Mr. QI Junming, a villager of Datong County. Ms WANG Xiulan, a member of the folk dance team in Huangzhong County, could not hold her excitement after watching the Fijian dances and dancing together with the Fijian artists. She said, ‘This is the first time for me to have such dancing experience with overseas friends. I am totally amazed. Thanks to them, I now see a new form of dancing. I am looking forward to more opportunities like this to get in touch with different arts.’
On August 12, the foreign artists from 12 countries of the five continents gathered with Chinese artists at the outdoor theater of ‘Grand Stage of the Common Folks’ in the Central Plaza of Chengzhong District of Xining. They sang and danced with the citizens. This grand celebration of art took place both on the stage and among the audience, which drew a successful conclusion to the series events of the 10th CIFAF.
Kabu Ni Vanua Traditional Dance Group of Fiji Performed at Chengxi District of Xining City
‘Welcome to Xining, the summer capital of Qinghai and we will present you with an auspicious silk scarf of “Hada”.’ In such singings full of Xining features, foreign artists walked into the outdoor theater of ‘Grand Stage of the Common Folks’ and received the auspicious ‘Hada’ gifts from Xining people. A folk dance program by Xining local performers named Our Festival presented joyful dragon dance, lion dance and phoenix dance, setting off the grand celebration. After that, Small Drum Dance by the Dream Dance Company of Korea carried on with the vehement atmosphere. The Ragini Makkhar & Naadyog dance group of India brought a singing and dancing program Joyful Hearts of Artists, which showed the full extent of Indian people’s artistic talents and passionate character. Throughout the festival shows, every time the lady singer of the ‘Skyblasters’ band from the Netherlands sang ‘Flower basket gives off fragrance and please hear out my singing.’, there invariably rose long lasting applauses among the audience. Her accurate Mandarin pronunciation, authentic local taste, and in particular, the addition of two Chinese instrumentalists in the closing show, closed up distance between foreign artists and Chinese audience within a blink. The Riel Dance by the ‘Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers’ of South Africa let the audience of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have a taste of the African people’ passion. The ‘Written in the Stars’ girls' choir of Finland, together with Stars Youth Choir of Xining, sang the Auld Lang Syne which revealed the hearts and minds of the artists of all countries as well as the original purpose of CIFAF. Then, the National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of Mongolia performed a dance of Running Horse, bringing the classic grassland culture to the Xining audience. One group after another, about 300 artists of the 12 foreign art troupes went on stage, and this internationalized ‘Grand Stage of the Common Folks’ presented an audio-visual extravaganza of profound national features from all around the world.
Ragini Makkhar & Naadyog Dance Group of India Performed in Chengdong District of Xining City
Natural and relaxed singings were well-received by the common audience. Passionate dancing went unrestrained. A grand celebration both over the stage and amongst the audience ignited the enthusiasm of the Xining people. In the end, with the happy rhythms of Joyful Singings for the Festival, all Chinese and foreign artists went on stage and bid farewell to the audience. The applauses and cheers rose waves after waves, and the echoes created a sea of joy.