Written by Yixian on January 24, 2014
(Translated by Conglong and Edited by Kaer)
I remember when our community was still in Kunming city and there were only about thirty of us. One Sunday night, our guide asked each of us to perform on the stage. Hardly anyone had experience performing in public back then, so no one wanted to perform because they were all too shy and self conscious. Then the guide said that we were copying the lifestyle of the Thousand Year World and there are many games and entertainment activities there, so everyone should practice singing and dancing. Furthermore, everyone needs to perform something, even if it is just imitating the sound of an animal or a rabbit’s bunny jump, and I still remember that things were just like that at our first party. The first performance of Dongfang, who can dance excellently now, was imitating a rabbit jummping and my first performance was reciting a Henan tongue twister. Wannian’s belly dance was very impressive even then. Anyway, we all had a lot of fun at the party that night.
Gradually, with the development of the community and the growing number of members, people started to practice singing and dancing. There were more and more programs at each party, and the quality was improving. The host or hostess, stage and stage settings, music, costumes, and stage properties were carefully chosen or designed, and we had a variety of programs which included singing, dancing, reciting, short acts, comic dialogue, magic, and others. The dance category included disco, square dancing, ballroom dancing, folk dancing, and belly dancing, to name a few. The parties usually started at 7:00 PM and would not finish until after midnight. More and more people started becoming enthusiastic about performing on stage and we would often need to rehearse our acts.
The initial idea was that our parties would be weekly, however as everyone became more involved with community work, we reduced them to just monthly parties. Each branch holds parties separately, and they choose their times and locations.
Sometimes we hold parties in the daytime and use the beauty of nature as our stage setting. For example, the nice flowers and green bamboo in the 3rd branch make a very nice stage background, while in the fourth branch, the lookout deck, taiji garden, and Fengming valley offer both space and fantastic natural environments, so they are ideal natural venues for performers and audiences.
We usually play group games before or after the parties. They are quite varied and include rope skipping, tug-of-war, game fowl, and many others. There are “punishments” and “rewards” in these games. The punishments for the losers are that they must perform or do something to entertain the audience until he or she is allowed to pass, while the rewards for the winners are that they can punish anyone else. People are very happy playing these games as they experience the beauty of life. Their souls are more like those of children and they become simpler. The relationships among people continue to grow closer and friendlier as well.
People look more elegant and cultivated by the practices of singing and dancing. They not only have the “simple” quality of “country folk”, but they also have the “elegant” quality of “city slickers”. It becomes very difficult to recognize whether someone who has lived in our community for a long while was originally from the city or the countryside. I am also very often especially touched at the parties by the children. They are so immersed into performing that whether they are singing or dancing, their sincerity and innocence make me feel the beauty of life and the sweetness of the community. How good it would be if my child and every child could experience this kind of life. I remember one time when they recited the poem, “a grateful heart”, which they themselves had written. In that poem, they expressed their gratitude for the community and the love they feel as they are growing up. That poem touched almost everyone and brought many people to tears. The performances of the elderly have also brought a lot of joy and surprises to people. As I watched them, I could feel their sincerity and love of life. They were always so devoted, and sometimes a little nervous, which made them look very lovely.
As our community developed, we also bought more and more musical instruments. We now have a dulcimer, an erhu, flutes, a harmonica, a xiao, guitars, and several others including the recent addition of a guqin. Although our performance skills are not yet professional, it delights me to hear my brothers and sisters creating these wonderful sounds.
Very often as I have listened, I have felt that within a few short years, many people’s skills will improve and they will become true artists.
The games and party activities in the Second Home aim, not only to bring happiness to people, they also have much deeper and more profound meanings.
The instant of the party (1)
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