The Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera's "Amazing China" show will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, in the Anderson Center's Osterhout Concert Theater.
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Audience members will experience a wide variety of Chinese performing arts when the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera at Binghamton University’s annual show – “Amazing China” – takes the Osterhout Concert Theater stage on Sept. 27.
The show, which begins at 8 p.m. and lasts between for 90 minutes and two hours, will feature elements of Beijing opera and also showcase such as song, dance, instruments and acrobats. Admission is $3 for students, $6 for Binghamton University faculty/staff and seniors, and $10 for the general public.
“(The audience) will leave the show with a rich impression of Chinese performing arts and the Chinese culture in general,” said Zu-yan Chen, director of the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera and professor of Chinese language and literature. “For some students and local residents, this will be the first time they have seen Beijing opera – a very old, popular performing arts in China that’s different from western opera. I think it will have a long-lasting impression on them.”
The Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera at Binghamton University (CICO) is a nonprofit organization formed by Binghamton University and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA), and is sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, China.
Besides offering courses on campus, CICO organizes lectures, workshops and various other activities. It also is the only performance group in the United States to feature Beijing opera. Its current tour has taken the group to Missouri State University and Stony Brook University. A performance at Auburn University in Alabama is also planned.
“This semester is busy, but we consider the (Binghamton) show to be the main piece of the tour because it’s at home and in the Osterhout Concert Theater,” Chen said.
“Amazing China” is part of the 49th New York Conference on Asian Studies, a two-day event hosted by Binghamton University that draws scholars of Asia from across the United States. Panels and presentations will take place Sept. 27-28 at the Holiday Inn-Arena and the University Downtown Center.
The show is also notable because it will feature a performance from Binghamton University senior Carrie Buck, a double major in Chinese and Spanish. The CICO touring group consists of professionals from Binghamton University, the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, and guests from New York City. Buck, however, will be the first U.S. student to perform with the group.
Buck, from Skaneateles, received international honors for a Beijing opera performance video she made and studied last spring at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts.
“Our standards are very high,” Chen said. “Carrie has done so much and is our student. We are happy to have her here performing.”
Buck will perform a six-minute piece in costume that incorporates three components of Beijing opera: movement, acting and singing. She will wear a long silk sleeve that goes behind her shoulders on a bar. When she moves her arms while singing, the effect will be like water flowing from the arms, she said.
“The character is a goddess in the garden,” Buck said. “So when you do different movements with the silk sleeve, it represents different symbols within the performance.”
Buck, who has studied Chinese for three years, won the preliminary and secondary rounds of the Chinese Bridge Speaking Competition in 2012. That earned her the right to take classes in China. She was impressed with her time at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing, where she met with University President and fellow Skaneateles native Harvey Stenger.
“Everyone at the school has studied Beijing Opera or some sort of arts since they were young,” she said. “Even students majoring in international relations had to be able to perform to get into school. Every Friday, you could go to the small theater and watch anyone perform. You are able to glean all of this knowledge from people who have been living and breathing this culture since they were born. It was interesting to be up close and personal with that culture.”
Stenger’s stop at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts last spring is just one example of Binghamton University’s commitment to CICO, Chen said.
“The mission of the Confucius Institute is to teach Chinese language and culture,” Chen said. “We are a special institute with a partner in NACTA. We have a special focus, along with teaching language and culture. Our University leaders have been very supportive toward our mission and our activities.”