Eastern and Western culture came together as performers, directors,and coordinators all gathered for the final bow for the Shaolin Kung Fu performance as the audience applauded, when, from the side stage, came a gift for the performance director. From this small bag, the performance director unveiled a stunning Shaolin sword.
The sword’s case was colored with a vibrant red and gold. As he reached for the handle of the sword, the audience waited for him to reveal the blade. However, the performance director only partially unsheathed the sword, leaving the extent of its magnificence to the audience’s imagination.
Then another gift was rushed in from the side stage, this time being delivered to one of the coordinators from the University of Idaho. The coordinator opened the bag to reveal a statuette of the Chinese philosopher Confucius for the university to display in remembrance of the collaboration at the NIC Shuler Performing Arts Center on Jan. 19.
This not only displayed the connection between the University of Idaho and its international community, but also made a gesture of promotion for better relations between the United States and China. Through artistic ways, the performance broke through language barriers to let the audience truly experience Chinese culture.
The performers showcased many traditional martial art forms, such as kung fu, wushu, and tai chi. They even displayed weapons used in Chinese martial arts, such as broadswords and staffs. Though the weapons were not the “real deal,” due to obvious safety reasons.
During one section of the performance, members of the Wulin Hanyun Troupe dressed in animal-patterned costumes and performed kung fu that mimicked the actions of animals. After the performers showcased this kung fu, the master of ceremonies asked for members of the audience to come to the stage and learn from the performers some of the animal gestures. The stage was then flooded with excited children of all ages.
Besides the Chinese martial arts, there was also a vast amount of traditional Chinese folk music. They showcased various traditional instruments, such as the pipa, which is a pear-shaped lute, and the zheng, which is a twenty-one-stringed harp-like instrument.
“It [the music] just takes you”, said Gaby Wilson, an administrator at the NIC Workforce Training Center in Post Falls.
To ensure that each instrument had a moment in the spotlight, each of the four musicians got a time to perform a solo. Every single time a solo would begin, the packed auditorium would become silent. The musicians even surprised the audience by using their traditional Chinese instruments to play some American songs. Such songs even included the Christmas carol “Jingle Bells.” The audience joined together in singing, clapping along, and cheering for the performance.
“The Henan Province is the home of martial arts in China” said Dr. Hexian Xue, the co-director of the University of Idaho Confucius Institute.
The Henan Province is also the home of the Chinese martial arts performers. The University of Idaho Confucius Institute brings educational opportunities by creating Chinese language classes, as well as various Chinese martial arts classes.