The Southern California portion of the tour was coordinated by the UCLA Confucius Institute and Star Education, a nonprofit organization.
Seven-year-old Hannah liked everything. Her friend Jordan, 8, liked the "kids dancing in the yellow costumes" the best. Their friend Natalie, "almost 8," preferred the "the girl dancing with the stick thing with the box at the end," referring to a spectacular act incorporating dance, a two-string fiddle, and gymnastic contortions.
As part of its North American tour, the Tianjin-based Cathay Future Children's Art Troupe this week is visiting Los Angeles elementary schools (see photos). The Southern California portion of the tour was coordinated by the UCLA Confucius Institute and Star Education, a nonprofit organization.
The troupe includes 21 musicians, dancers, acrobats, and singers whose average age is 8. Each performance mixes these arts as well as musical styles, from traditional Chinese to Asian pop to Latin dance music.
The first performance—at Will Rogers Learning Community in Santa Monica on Monday, Jan. 26—featured a traditional Chinese musical ensemble, with the di (bamboo flute), erhu (two-string fiddle), and yangqin (dulcimer); some solo vocal and instrumental performances; and a dazzling dance duet. At the end of the set, two of the children donned bright yellow Dancing-with-the-Stars costumes and did the cha-cha and the rumba to the delight of Hannah, Jordan, Natalie, and the rest of the audience.
In addition to the performance, Will Rogers hosted an exhibition on Chinese New Year in the school library. Principal Irma Lyons emphasized the notion of cultural exchange: "It's absolutely phenomenal to see these children sharing their passion with our children." She went on to explain that the Chinese children would be visiting classrooms to learn more about American culture.
For all their talent, the Cathay Future Troupe members are children, and the cultural exchange included lunch in the cafeteria and some time running around on the playground.