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WISS students celebrate Mandarin and traditional Chinese culture

Students in nursery through grade eight at the Western International School of Shanghai presented a stunning performance of traditional Chinese music, dance, poetry and martial arts on Saturday for an audience of their parents, siblings, and even, in some cases, for visiting grandparents.

The international school, which hosts students from 26 countries and regions, enjoys a reputation for intensive study of Chinese language and culture, and the show was performed completely in Chinese with only limited translation for the audience.

Master of ceremonies Carola Dibella of Italy and Sean Rice of Ireland and Singapore, both grade four students, introduced performances in both English and Chinese, humorously explaining the backgrounds of performances in the manner of the hosts of CCTV's New Year Gala.

The show began with a demonstration of wu shu (martial art) by acrobatic middle schoolers Nina Wang of Italy and Olivia Reichl of Germany and accomplished fifth grader Chuan Ting Toh of Singapore. This was followed by a group of primary school students who cart wheeled, flipped and kicked onto the stage. All of the students have been studying wu shu in the after school activity lead by Chi Life Studios.

Primary school students wearing lavish traditional Chinese costumes next performed a song entitled "Chinese Language," about the worldwide recognition of Chinese language.

The rousing song was followed by pre-kindergarten and kindergarten boys, lead by first grader Chantel Chang, reciting three ancient poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD): "Think Quietly at Night," "Spring Morning," and "Toiling Farmers."

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten girls then performed a dance entitled "Little Fairy Fox," about the title character's fall from heaven to join in the earthly celebration of Chinese New Year.

Grades one to three students then performed the drama "Nian." According to the original legend Nian was a monster that always came to frighten people every winter, but people soon figured out that Nian was scared of red things and firecrackers, when a brave Chinese girl went to his cave and spied on him speaking with his mother.

There followed a traditional Chinese costume exhibition by nursery and primary students.

Audiences were wowed by the beautiful and elegant costumes of the little runway models.

This was followed by an interpretive drama of the story of Mulan performed by students in grades one to four.

The drama, through some very fancy sword wielding by Jana Jaran and the rest of the cast, told and enacted the widely known story of the brave girl who took her father's place in battle.

A group of students in grades six to eight enhanced the program with a humorous but meaningful skit that they had composed themselves about the problems of pollution.

The skit concluded in a rollicking dance number that had the cast all sweeping and cleaning up the landscape.

Finally, primary students performed a beautiful dance incorporating many traditional elements, including drums, streamers, fans, and flowers to the music "Welcome the New Year," a popular song of Spring Festival.

Director Dr Alfonso Orsini commended the Chinese teaching staff and the students for a superb show, stating that when he watches the CCTV Gala at his home in Dalian, Liaoning Province, during the holidays: "It may pale by comparison with the show we enjoyed today."


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