Ushering in Lunar 2005 with a TV gala
Chinese Lunar New Year's Day is definitely the most important festival in China. For many Chinese, the celebration won't be a celebration if either the New Year's Eve dinner or the CCTV gala show is missing.
Initiated in 1983, the national occasion usually lasts for more than four hours and stretches out into the first hour of the Lunar New Year.
On Feb. 8, the curtain of the much anticipated CCTV show for the Year of the Rooster will rise with group dances representing several provinces of China.
These dances, directed by acclaimed choreographer Chen Weiya, head of the China National Song and Dance Ensemble, will exude a striking festive atmosphere.
The show hosts have always engaged nationwide attention. This year, the old veterans will give the stage to four young stars of CCTV ¡ª Zhu Jun, Li Yong, Zhou Tao and Dong Qing ¡ª and 32 hosts and hostesses from 32 TV stations of different provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in the country. They will add a tinge of local features to the event with their distinctive regional styles.
Language performances, in-cluding comic sketches and cross talks, have been regarded as the highlights of the show. Zhao Benshan, the most acclaimed comic star in the country, who has taken part in the annual event for 15 years and developed a "selling something" series, will continue his sales game this year with a show named Kung Fu.
Many other widely accepted performers, such as Huang Hong and Gong Hanlin, are also ready to split the audience's sides with laughter. Newcomers Wei San and Sun Xiaobao are the directors' new secret weapons.
"Given more opportunities, Wei and Sun might outperform Zhao in a few years," a director said. Language performances in this year's show will last for more than 100 minutes, the longest ever.
Another shining star of the show will be Na Ying, a leading female singer in China. With Sunshines of Love, a new song specially written for the show, Na will come back to the stage for the first time since giving birth a few months ago.
Liu Huan and Mao Amin, another two recognized singing stars, will be absent from the show because their preparations didn't live up to expectations.
The most anticipated guest, the Olympic champion of the 110 meters hurdles, Liu Xiang will come to the stage at the end of a program called Magic Olympics and will be joined by other Olympic champions including Du Li, Tang Gonghong and members of the national women's volleyball team.
The champions and the so-called magicians, starring Pan Changjiang, Liu Yajin and De Jiang, will host a laughable talk show.
Stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan will mostly hold the stage with songs.
Jackie Chan and his son Jaycee Fang will perform songs of different styles with their own partners. Andy Lau will dress up like a Beijing Opera singer and greet the audience with a specially composed song May You a Good Fortune. Two costly robots will also come to the limelight together with Lau. Jolin Cai and Joey Yung are also on the list.
Another program expected to strike a strong responsive chord is the dance delivered by China Disabled People's Arts Troupe ¡ª Kwan-yin of 1000 Hands.
No doubt, the deaf-mute women dancers, who have won a number of international awards, will touch the audience's heart again with their exceptional performance. At the end of the dance, the gestures of love will be taught to the audience by a sign language teacher.
The gala show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.