The University has hosted the first St Petersburg Students’ Chinese Culture and Art Festival. The event was organised with the support of the Consulate General of China in St Petersburg and Capital Normal University in Beijing.

As part of the festival, a China poetry reading contest was held. The participants also got the opportunity to demonstrate their artistic skills in a China drama line performance contest. They presented to the jury four dramatic pieces from the Chinese classics.

Ms Wang Lihua, Vice President of the International Culture School at Capital Normal University, greeted the participants in her welcome speech.

Poetry and theatre are part of the priceless treasury of Chinese culture. Thanks to these two contests, Russian students will be able to touch these treasures and feel their beauty.

Ms Wang Lihua, Vice President of the International Culture School at Capital Normal University

’The development of China-Russia friendly political ties cannot take place without strengthening cooperation in the fields of culture and education. And the spirit of this partnership should be inherited by new generations of students,’ Ms Wang Lihua noted.

Dmitrii Maiatskii, Associate Professor in the Department of Chinese Philology of St Petersburg University, acted as Chairman of the jury at the China poetry reading contest. He thinks the festival is aimed at providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate their progress in learning Chinese and acquire public speaking skills at creative events. ’Learning any language cannot be limited only to mastering the correct phonetics, grammar and vocabulary,’ Dmitrii Maiatskii is sure. ’It is very important to immerse yourself in the culture of the people whose language we are learning. And it is common knowledge that China is immensely rich from this perspective. It is the home of one of the most ancient civilisations. Poetry and drama are an integral part of it. The Chinese are proud of their centuries-old history and pay particular respect to those who understand poetry and theatre.’

Alexey Rodionov, Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies, Associate Professor of St Petersburg University, served as Chairman of the jury at the China drama line performance contest. He believes that China-Russia cultural and literary ties have intensified in recent years. For example, over the past five years, two collections of Chinese dramatic works have been published. Before that, plays by Chinese authors had not been published in Russia for almost 30 years. One of the collections, Beauties: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Drama, was published by the St Petersburg University Publishing House. The other, dedicated to the plays of the 20th and 21st centuries, was published by the Hyperion Publishing House in 2018.

I wish there were more China in our lives. It is great that we have started to go offline and experience Chinese culture up close and personal, like during this festival. We expect the Chinese drama to hit the stages of Russian theatres soon.

Alexey Rodionov, Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies, Associate Professor of St Petersburg University, Chairman of the jury at the China drama line performance contest

The jury of the contests also included: Tatiana Prutskikh, Associate Professor, Acting Head of the Department of Oriental Languages at St Petersburg State University of Economics; Mariana Ponomareva, Assistant Professor at St Petersburg University; Zhang Xunli, Director of the Confucius School; and Zhang Hao, Head of the Beijing School of Chinese Language, a private institution of additional education in St Petersburg.

University students from St Petersburg, Moscow and other cities took part in the poetry reading contest. The participants recited shih poetry of the 3rd—10th centuries, cí romances of the 11th—12th centuries, and modern blank verses. The contest was opened with Snow, the emotionally performed Lu Xun’s poem. The following poems were also featured: Love You by Xi Murong; Asking the Moon with My Wine by Li Bai; You the April of This World by Lin Huiyin; Prelude to Water Melody by Su Shi; Moonlit Night Among Flowers on a Spring River by Zhang Ruoxu; and many others.

As to the China drama line performance contest, not only the language speaking skills were evaluated in the participants, but also their acting skills and teamwork. The jury evaluated pieces from the following 20th-century plays: Dragon Beard Ditch by Lao She; Li Bai by Guo Qihong; and Sima Qian by Xiong Zhaozheng. Zhuge Liang’s part from the traditional Beijing opera The Ruse of the Empty City was also performed.

St Petersburg University students became winners in the both contests. Kristina Bulatnikova ranked first both among the Chinese poetry readers and the Chinese drama performers. Anna Drozdova and Nikita Demidchuk were awarded for the best stage costumes. The best teamwork award was given to Nikolai Solopov, Varvara Ilmova, Polina Berestova, Ekaterina Vodopianova and Daria Starkova for their performance of Lao She’s play Dragon Beard Ditch.

’We believe that this contest has become a great opportunity to test our knowledge and prepare for other contests, for example, the Chinese Bridge,’ said the winners of the contest, students of St Petersburg University Polina Berestova and Ekaterina Vodopianova.