Pillbox

One Night in Beijing whisks students away

Students perform a dance number with fans as part of Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture’s One Night in Beijing in Rangos on Saturday night. (credit: Courtesy of Dennis Liang) Students perform a dance number with fans as part of Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture’s One Night in Beijing in Rangos on Saturday night. (credit: Courtesy of Dennis Liang)

For students who grew up in more homogenous areas, coming to Carnegie Mellon can be eye opening in many ways. One of the perks of this community is the diversity seen on campus.

While this diversity is easily seen walking from class to class, each group also has representation on campus through the many organizations that celebrate the culture with which they identify.

One of these organizations, Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture (ARCC), chose to share Chinese culture through its annual show, One Night in Beijing. Directed by ARCC president Victor Dong and One Night in Beijing coordinator Dennis Liang, this production is one that helps students feel connected to Chinese culture.

Because it is the one big event for ARCC each year, students old and new begin working on the show nearly two months in advance, and they find it extremely rewarding. First-year undeclared Dietrich College student Vira Shao said the reason she joined the production was that she felt “out of touch with her roots and wanted to reconnect.”

However, the performance is not just rewarding for the performers themselves: The production also compels audience members to feel connected to the Chinese culture, regardless of whether or not they identify with it.

This year’s theme was “The White Serpent,” based on the legend of Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian, who cross the barriers between the spirit world and the mortal world with their love. The story is punctuated with dance, song, and music, many of which portray ancient Chinese traditions.

The production was engaging throughout. While the moral of the story could be considered cheesy, the actors did not take themselves too seriously, adding humor that supplemented their overall message. Students spent large amounts of time preparing for the show, as evidenced by the number of props and costumes.

While most of the acts were enjoyable, the standout performances were those that emphasized aspects of Chinese culture while fusing them with more modern qualities. One such performance, “Deep in the Quiet Night,” used fans and interpretive dance to depict an ancient Chinese poem and featured beautiful choreography.

But arguably the best performance of the night was “A Love Before Time,” a song from the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. First-year chemical engineering and biomedical engineering double major Carrie Qiu had a voice that outshone the rest, and she delivered a lovely performance at the end of the show.

One Night in Beijing was a great experience for those wanting a taste of Chinese tradition. It was satisfying to see a performance in which students are proud of their heritage and are inspired to share it with the rest of the student body.