15-year-old Wei Caiqi, the niece of Chinese dancing star Yang Liping, twirled nonstop for four hours straight during China’s New Year celebrations. The annual China Central Television (CCTV) gala was aired live on January 30 and watched by 704 million viewers across the nation.
Wei, clad in a white gown, spun on a special stage as the rest of the festivities went on. Her performance was meant to represent ‘the passing of time and the changing of seasons’. But all it did was create a huge controversy online, where people called the event ‘cruel’.
Days ahead of her performance, Wei had attempted to silence critics by calling it a type of ‘meditation’. She posted on her Weibo account: “Some say it is cruel to have me spin for four hours on the gala, but actually it’s a sort of spiritual practice for me. It’s a way of challenging my limits, like those who climb Mount Everest, just to see if one can do it. I thank God for giving me the gift and offering me a platform to let me clean my soul.”
Going by the responses online, no one was really buying her explanation. China’s popular social networking websites were filled with posts of concern before, after and during the performance. One user wrote: “Who can tell me the point of her four-hour spinning?”
“A 15-year-old girl spinning there for four hours, to this I can only say it is sick, a perversion of values,” another posted.
“What else can it be called except cruel? For me, any sense of beauty has been completely replaced by a feeling of disgust,” wrote a user on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.
I watched a short video clip of Wei’s performance. I wouldn’t say that it displayed much of her dancing skills; it was more about maintaining balance, although she did have to rotate faster as midnight approached. How did she manage to keep steady while twirling for such a long time? She sure is extraordinary for a 15-year-old.
CCTV’s annual gala has been a Chinese tradition since 1983 – families gather to watch a lineup of dancers, singers and comedians perform every year live on television.