About two weeks ago, I finally gave in and joined the Chinese Students Association. I went to one meeting my freshmen year, but then stopped going. I stayed on the e-mail list, though, and this year I started to realize that I knew most of the people on CSA. At that point, actually joining wasn't too big of a stretch. It does make my Wednesday evenings pretty tight - I go directly from a violin lesson to meetings - but so far it's working.
This weekend, CSA held our annual Lunar New Year banquet. I will say right now that it was a lot of work. Even just setting up today took a long time. I got there at 9:30 this morning, and only left for about two hours before I had to go back for the actual event. But a lot of work means big pay-offs, and it was a pretty awesome event.
First of all, there was a lion dance, which is cool on its own. Unlike previous years, though, this years' lion dance was performed by students. Since seeing a lion dance for the first time since I was three last year, I've always had the vague dream of learning how to do it myself. With this in mind, I watched a few of the rehearsals. I'm not very far along in learning how to actually lion dance, but I do have even more of an appreciation of how much work it is--coordinating two people to look like one animal is not easy.
Lion dance rehearsal
From what I saw of it from my place serving "beef in spicy sauce," the performance was great. The lion looked fantastic, and creepily real, if you let yourself forget about who was inside of it. Along with the lion was Buddha, who first cheekily tormented the sleeping lion until it woke up, and then proceeded to charm the lion with a ball of yarn. I'd helped coach Buddha in the art of proper acting, so I'm sure that went well, too.
And the performance!
There were other performances showcasing traditional Chinese culture, as well. The Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble performed several pieces. There was also a kung fu showcase (not as much falling to the ground as Aikido), a fan dance, and a ribbon dance.
Cleaning up afterwards, one of the co-chairs of CSA asked me how my first banquet experience was. I said it was good, a little crazy, but good. Coming in only two weeks before, I didn't have to do much of the long-term prep work, so that probably made things less stressful. I'm very impressed at how well the rest of CSA made the banquet. Sometimes events like this are only thrown together in the end and therefore don't turn out well, but this one (as other people told me, so you know I'm not just making this up) was definitely a success.