Chinese Arts Night at Poole Lighthouse

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To mark Chinese New Year and the year of the Rooster, the Lighthouse in Poole played host to the ‘Chinese Arts & Culture Night 2017’.

There were explosions of colour in the form of the performer’s outfits, magic and some very talented and mind boggling performances from troupes, musicians and individuals alike.

I found the show had enough content, in terms of what was performed but I really struggled with the length of time talking took place in-between acts, most of it not being translated from Chinese to English. As a result it took some of the magic away as it didn’t feel as much of an inclusive show. Perhaps that’s one for the organisers to address for next time, either a translator or subtitles on the screen.

However, criticism aside, not knowing what exactly was coming next adding an element of intrigue to the show.

Some of my highlights from the night were:

String Quartet Performance (Bu Bu Gao) – not just any string quartet though, one with an array of fascinating instruments that I haven’t seen or heard play before. The harmonies of the lute (the pipa), zither (guzheng), fiddle (erhu) and dulcimer (yangqin) made for a soothing sound, that intrigued the senses and put the audience in a euphoric state.

Dan Shou Ding – a mix of acrobatics, dance and balance, also know as Acrobalance. Vibrant colours mix with performances of concentration to perform one-hand handstands, planches and straddle holds. I clung onto my seat for a while to this one as there were so many times I thought I saw a wobble!

Space Walk – One of my favourite performances of all. Three acrobats performed gravity-defying acrobatics by balancing on each other, and space walking side-ways on a pole as if they were floating. They were so strong, elegant and their space-walking performance blew me away!

Traditional Art of Bian Lian – face changing has been part of China’s heritage for many years as well as being ranked as a level 2 national secret. I haven’t seen face changing performed before but it was certainly a performance that both wowed me and boggled my brain.

The performer swished his arms and nodded his head and each time his face changed, some times faster than others. Blink and you’ll miss it. I thought that he might have had masks all around his neck but he performed some of his performance without anything on his head or around his neck and proved me wrong. I have no idea how it was done, but face changing will always be magical to me!

All in all this arts and culture night definitely delivered on its promise but perhaps next year we’ll be able to understand more about the show and its performers.

Words by Michelle Stannard

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