Parents, teachers and friends gathered on June 18 at Plainview's Parkway Elementary School to watch the students perform in the Chinese Cultural Performance.
Marisa J. Fang, Chinese teacher at Parkway Elementary School and assistant principal at Plainview's Chinese School, worked with the students for the past few months to prepare for the performance. Children at Parkway take Chinese classes once a week, which limits the amount of time that Fang has to work with the children as they only have 40 minutes per week to study.
The Chinese program was first brought to Plainview five years ago and there are currently three full-time teachers in the elementary school. Fang has been there since the inception of the program.
"I am surprised about how much the children learned about the Chinese culture and language," said Fang to the audience. "They learned a lot about Chinese traditions and also about Chinese New Year."
The children performed dances, sang songs, read poetry and recited famous Chinese children's stories to the audience.
The fourth-grade Chinese group performed a Chinese folk dance, which included traditional umbrellas and ribbon dancing. "These girls practiced for this during their lunch break," said Fang.
Through poetry, dance and song, the children explained that the Chinese dance tradition began approximately 5,000 years ago. They were known to dance in groups named ceremonial, dramatic, military and agricultural.
Jared Kaplan told the audience that ancient Chinese music was based mainly on drums, bells, gongs and flutes. Religious rituals included dancing as well as music.
Lauren Ellner explained that Chinese dance has its own vocabulary and moving bodies in different ways enabled them to tell their feelings and thoughts.
Jeremy Levine said that the traditional Chinese dance was divided into two types - civilian and military. "In civilian dances, dancers use feathers and banners and in military dances, dancers carried weapons," Levine said.
Rachel Bressner explained that during the Tang Dynasty, poetry, music and dance were very popular. "Dancers were influenced by folk dancers of central Asian countries that traded with China," said Bressner.
Ashley Callsa and Ryan Ferreira said that the Chinese people think that dragons are friendly creatures and they believe dragons bring good luck. The longer the body of the dragon is in the dance, the more luck it will bring.
The last performance of the morning featured special guests playing classical Chinese musical instruments. Yu Li played the guzheng, which is like a zither; Zhai Zhong-Chun played the erhu, which is like a violin; Guo Zhao-Shun played the pipa, which is similar to the lute and Zhang Chang-Jiang played the flute. According to Fang, this quartette is very famous in China and has performed numerous times for the governors in China.