Ratna Venkat –
It is a well-known fact that Chinese Art and Sport culture occupy a prominent place on the world stage, but little do people know that ‘Chinese’ does not necessarily imply only people from Mainland China.
Thanks to the efforts of its people, who have emigrated and transported their culture to countries far and wide, Chinese art and sport have been patronised over the years by enthusiasts living outside their original homeland, and remain popular with people young and old, Chinese and non-Chinese.
One such show was ‘Taiwan Youth Power,’ an exposition of traditional folk arts and sports from the island nation of Taiwan (better known as the Republic of China or ROC), held at Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School on Friday, September 11, 2015.
Sponsored by the ROC-based Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC), the event was presented by the Goodwill Mission Delegation to Oceania comprising the Taiwanese Youth Folk Arts Troupe, from the coastal city of Keelung, located in the north-east of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
The show began with ‘Treasure Island,’ depicting the beauty of Taiwan’s mountainous landscape in combination with Taiwanese Aboriginals’ Harvest Festival dance, which can be treated as an invocation to Taiwan’s original inhabitants and aboriginal culture.
This was followed by diverse acts that showcased impressive technical skills of the performers, ranging from ‘Diabolo (Chinese yo-yo) Juggling’ to ‘The Hakka Customs’ and ‘Legend of the Mountain and Sea.’
Spinning tops and skipping ropes are almost non-existent in today’s generation of children, so it was delightful to witness some of these Taiwanese youngsters restoring these games back to its glory, along with their creative tricks and innocent smiles.
The Taiwanese Youth Folk Arts Troupe consisted of students studying at Keelung Chung-cheng Junior High School, and as part of the Goodwill Mission Delegation, toured Australia and New Zealand to showcase and spread awareness of various traditional folk arts and sports unique to Taiwan.
These included artistic and innovative formations of rope skipping, Diabolo juggling and top twirling, performed either as a solo, duet or in multiples, and presented both as a pure sporting activity, and as part of a music and dance act.
With the aim of preserving and passing on the heritage of Taiwanese folk arts and sports to future generations, the ‘Rope Skipping Team’ and ‘Diabolo Juggling Team’ were established in 1975 in the city of Keelung. Since then, young people invest interest in learning how to creatively handle and manipulate a rope, top and Diabolo, and are taught how to incorporate these skills into their sporting and artistic ventures.
Steven SK Chen, OCAC Minister, mentioned that besides spotlighting Taiwanese folk arts and sports on the international stage, the mission is about fostering peace and harmony between the ROC and other nations.
“This programme aims to deepen the understanding of Taiwan for people in the mainstream society to encourage greater cultural exchanges and stronger cultural diplomacy,” he said.