Plus ca change – “Ethnic” Round-dance in year 2010 CCTV New Year Show

The untitled pan-ethnic Omnidance (geminzu datuanlian jiemu) shown here has become a fixture in the world’s most widely watched New Year’s Gala (中央电视台春节联欢晚会), shown on state-run China Central TV (CCTV) – this one on Feb 13 2011. 除夕. A combination of Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason, this suitable-for-all-audiences entertainment has been on the air since 1983. As this episode shows, however, the Pageant’s blaring rock and strobe belies the propaganda effect intended. Many interludes and certainly the abstract stage sets convey the message, but these days through non-texted symbol or simulation.

Of them the “dance of unity” is the most obvious, and also the oldest, perhaps the last relic of pre-TV culture. It seems however to be immovable: as if to dismantle it is to undermine the whole thing. One can only hope that the Spectacle’s internal “Broadway Melody” is not set on tour in the US. The NTDTV shenyun show is degraded enough…

Oh – and in case you wanted to know about the music, it is as ever Yenan-ese: 跑旱船, a yangge related comic act … well you can see something closer to the real thing in this second clip. A toy-boat is pedaled around – or rather walked around like a crutch: the age and gender of the propelling celebrant deliver the humor.

Pao Hanchuan “Dance”:

Somehow there is no Festival which does not say “remember Yenan”.

And also: you can see the unhappy convergence of Orthodox and Anti-Mainland cultural makers at work by looking for “shenyun” or New Tang Dynasty TV. Even more Macy’s Parade…

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