Beijing comes to Pittsburgh
One Night in Beijing, the annual Chinese cultural performance show held by ARCC (Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture), was held on Saturday night.
This year, the theme of the show was “Pig Tales,” which featured an overarching skit billed as “an original sequel to the famous Journey to the West.” Journey to the West, of course, is one of the most well-known stories in Chinese literature, featuring the adventures of Sun WuKong, the Monkey King, and the other disciples of a Buddhist monk, who travel from China to India on a pilgrimage. The skit follows the story of Zhu Bajie, the comical pig-man disciple known for his laziness and gluttony, who must serve time tending to a temple after he commits a number of misdeeds.
While at the temple, Zhu Bajie, played by sophomore information systems major Daniel Song, forms a friendship with a taciturn girl named Huan Meiling, played by senior international relations and politics and Chinese studies double major Sandra Yeh, who is being hounded by literal demons. Bajie must also face harsh rebukes from the deified Chinese general Guan Yu, played by junior mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering double major Calvin Chan. The Monkey King also makes an appearance as a comically adorable version played by junior computer science major Joy Lin.
The skit had a number of humorous touches, including the use of “oh my Buddha” instead of “oh my God,” as well as a subplot about the Bandit Queen, who finds the Monkey King sexy, much to the dismay of her husband.
The skit also segued into the performances well, with each performance complementing a portion of the skit. The performances themselves surveyed the landscape of Chinese culture, from its ancient roots to modern times.
One of the best performances of the night included “You Know You Love Me, I’m Your Bad Boy,” a performance led by the Bandit King as he tried to impress his wife into loving him again. A dance to the song “Moonwalk” by Taiwanese boyband JPM, “I’m Your Bad Boy” was a smooth but energetic dance performance that showcased effects such as silhouette lighting. The dancing was choreographed well enough to be a music video for the actual song.
Its companion performance “Fragile Falling Flowers and Breakups,” was a graceful fan dance that touched on the same themes as “I’m Your Bad Boy.” Together, the two songs offered female and male perspectives on love and breakups.
Also notable was the showing of Carnegie Mellon alumnus David Hsu’s (CIT ‘06) short film, “Fate,” about a girl who loses her boyfriend in a freak automobile accident, but gets a chance to reverse the death — at a price. The film features many Carnegie Mellon-centric locales and references. At one point, Hsu worked in a reference to The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.
Many other performances also featured fan dancing, Chinese folk songs, and C-pop. The Ballroom Dance Club made an appearance in the performance “Toxic Tango,” a dance to the Britney Spears hit. At one part of the show, Princess Anna from Frozen teamed up with a sea deity to sing “Let Part of Your World Go,” a mashup of the hit songs from Frozen and The Little Mermaid.
The show also featured performances with uniquely Chinese instruments and objects, such as the Chinese yo-yo, the Chinese qin (a traditional stringed instrument), and lion dancing — dances in lion costumes traditionally performed during Chinese festivals.
One Night in Beijing was a show that brought together a multitude of talented performers from the Carnegie Mellon community and a variety of influences from Chinese culture. It was a great show for anyone with a connection to, or interest in, China.