The annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala held its third rehearsal on Monday, with performers perfecting their routines including singing, dancing, acrobatics, comedy sketches and adapted true stories from the daily lives of ordinary people.
Besides professional performers and artists, ordinary people from all walks of life are taking part in the performances to create a true "gala for the people".
On Dec 29, the first bespoke song written for the gala, Hello Strangers, was released online and has been viewed over 60 million times.
The video shows the simple and touching moments of people receiving help from strangers.
In one example, a passerby encourages a man who is crying by the roadside by assuring him things will get better. In another, a vendor offers an umbrella to a woman on a rainy day, and she returns it several days later and insists on offering him some fruit in gratitude.
A stage performance adapted from the video was rehearsed for the first time on Monday, gathering many people from the video.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 22 this year, is regarded as the most important traditional festival for Chinese people. And the gala, to be performed on the eve of the Lunar New Year, aims to demonstrate and spread the charm of traditional Chinese culture.
Featured in this year's gala performance will be representations of ancient mythical beasts designed on the basis of recordings in ancient classics such as Shiji, known as Records of the Grand Historian in English, the foundation text of Chinese history dating back to the first century BC; and Baopuzi, known as The Book of The Master Who Embraces Simplicity in English, a book by Ge Hong, a Taoist scholar and medicine expert from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420).
With the help of visual technology, the beasts, including baize, an auspicious mythical beast symbolizing good fortune; qilin, or kylin, a mythical beast embodying good luck and prosperity; and pixiu, a lion-shaped beast that can turn calamities into blessings, perform with children, bringing a vitality that comes from the combination of the ancient and the new.
In the coming weeks, several other rehearsals will be held before the live telecast by China Central Television on the evening of Jan 21. Jan 22 marks the start of the Year of the Rabbit, the fourth animal of the Chinese zodiac.
Yu Lei, general director of the gala, talked about this year's mascot Tuyuanyuan (chubby rabbit) at an event held in Beijing on Jan 5.
According to her, the mascot is lively with bright eyes. Its four front teeth are designed based on a restored image of Mimotona wana, a rabbit-like animal fossil dating back 62 million years found in Anhui province in 1977.
"Tuyuanyuan, for the first time, comes from a survey on netizens' preferences accomplished with the support of big data technology. It contains the connotations and beauty of the rabbit in traditional Chinese culture, and shows the academic progress of Chinese scientists," said Yu.
A martial arts performance involving nearly 100 students from a martial arts school in Dengfeng, Henan province, where the Shaolin Temple is located, also took part in the third rehearsal.
Chinese celebrities such as Yang Zi, Wu Lei, Ma Li and Sha Yi also took part in the third rehearsal.