Spring Gala rings in Chinese New Year


Mary Pautsch/Iowa State Daily

Members of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association dance with Cy during the winter portion of the Spring Festival Gala.

Mary Pautsch

Iowa State students got a taste of a true Chinese New Year celebration through this year’s Spring Festival Gala, which was put on by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA).

The Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is celebrated annually throughout Eastern Asia at the turn of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. Each year is represented by an animal, with 2017 being the year of the rooster.

This year’s gala had a variety of performances in both English and Mandarin. Students and members of the CSSA danced, sang and performed different traditional acts.

Shayla Gladden, open-option freshman, said she particularly enjoyed one of the piano acts and the opening performance, which involved Chinese dragons.

“They were really impressive, I thought,” Gladden said. “When the dragons jumped off the stage, they were so synchronized.”

Gladden said her friend, Zixuan He, freshman in early childhood education, had seen a flyer for the event and had convinced her to come along to experience some diversity.

“It’s just something to do, but it’s also good to see some Chinese culture with everyone,” He said.

The Spring Gala included a video slideshow before the event began of different Iowans telling the crowd, “Happy New Year.” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, likely to soon be U.S. ambassador to China, was included and gave Iowa State his best wishes on the new year.

“I’m looking forward to spending time in [China] during the upcoming year,” Branstad added in his message.

The Gala began with multiple song and dance routines. A crowd favorite was a children’s choir from the Ames Chinese Language School. The group sang children’s songs in Chinese while some students accompanied on instruments.

Other performances ranged from classical music, to Chinese pop music, to Beyoncé and Eminem.

Cy joined the Sunday night celebration, taking photos with students and children in attendance. He also had his very own dance routine alongside some of the executive members of the CSSA.

The gala arranged the performances so they represented the four seasons. Spring was the last season shown, in honor of the Spring Festival.

Prizes were also given out throughout the night. The CSSA created a “lucky draw” that acted as a raffle. The gifts ranged from an online TV subscription to GoPros.

Other acts included comedy sketches in Mandarin and games that got the crowd onto the stage. One contest made members of the audience sing along to popular Chinese pop songs in order to win more prizes.

The festivities began at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union and lasted until around 10 p.m. The Gala drew a full audience and remained packed until the end.