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CCTV goes all out for galas
( 2004-01-20 09:01) (China Daily)

As it does every Spring Festival, China Central Television (CCTV) will give its viewers a rich choice of variety shows.

Aside from the usual fare on CCTV-1 on lunar New Year's Eve, which falls on January 21 this year, the station is offering several novel programmes and that will be worth seeing.

The Chinese count the years in cycles of 60, called shen with each cycle broken into five lesser cycles of 12 years, in which the years are designated by the names of 12 animals.

The year 2004 is the lunar year of shen or the monkey. In the past 60 years, the year shen recurred five times, beginning from 1944.

The shen years of the current cycle are 1956, 1968, 1980, 1994 and, of course, this year. It is all very simple -- a matter of twelves, because the base of the counting cycle is 12, not 10.

CCTV-1 is now showing a five-episode documentary recording the turmoils and triumphs of these cycles. It will be shown on CCTV-1 on January 20 and again from February 2 to 4.

On January 22, CCTV-1 will broadcast the song and dance show produced by the Ministry of Culture and featuring all the national performing arts troupes and a few folk groups thrown in for good measure.

In its 13th year, the show is directed by Chen Weiya, one of the most renowned choreographers and show directors in China and president of the China Song and Dance Troupe.

He was selected for his rich experience in choreography and direction in gala shows, including his co-operation with film director Zhang Yimou in directing the opera "Turandot'' in Italy in 1996 and the Forbidden City Production in 1997.

Chen also directed the ceremonies at the 1999' International Horticulture Expo in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, and the opening ceremony of the 21st Universiade Games in Beijing in 2001.

The masters-of-ceremony are TV actors Wen Xingyu and Li Yang, actress Tao Hong and a cartoon monkey played by a child actor, since 2004 is the Year of Monkey on the Chinese lunar calendar.

More than 100 famous performers from the China Song and Dance Troupe, Oriental Song and Dance Troupe, China Central Opera Theatre, China National Peking Opera Theatre and Central Nationalities Song and Dance Ensemble will present song and dance shows, folk operas and acrobatics.

On January 20, CCTV-1 will air a variety show produced by the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

The army's performance troupe began giving the annual shows in 1990. Performed by soldiers and students of the Arts Academy of PLA, the show usually features facets of soldiers' life in the military and their life with their families.

This year's performance is directed by Zhang Jigang, president of the troupe and an established choreographer in China.

"This year's show will emphasize the changing times. For example, you will see how our soldiers are learning English and the computer in addition to their military training through a short comedy skit,'' said Zhang.

According to him, skits of this kind play a much bigger part in the PLA show than they do in other performances.

What's more, Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut will appear and also perform in the programme.

The show will also feature popular singers such as soprano Peng Liyuan and Song Zuying. Song just held a recital at the Musikverein Golden Hall in Vienna, Austria.

Yet another show, produced by the China Federation of Literature and Art Circles, will broadcast on CCTV-1, CCTV-3 and CCTV-6 during the Spring Festival holiday.

Viewers will be able to see their favourite artists from the 11 associations belonging to the Federation, including musicians, dancers, actors, folk art performers, acrobats and movie actors and actresses.

Under the direction of Wang Chaoge and Yu Junjian, the show is a combination of traditional art forms and modern genres.

"Spirit of Dance'' will be the first foreign troupe to perform on CCTV-1's annual Spring Festival Variety Show. The Irish dance company is performing at the Beijing Exhibition Hall Theatre until January 23. But viewers across the country will be able to enjoy their special brand of precision dance at home on their TVs.

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