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A backstage visit to CCTV's Spring Festival Gala

CCTV.com

02-06-2016 21:32 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Spring Festival

CCTV's Spring Festival Gala is an institution with a 34-year history. Broadcast on the eve of Chinese New Year, it is the nation's most watched television event of the year.

There's no TV variety show or award ceremony in the world quite like this: performers arrive two weeks prior to the air date and go through six full rehearsals, four to make adjustments on timing, sequences, and sets; and the final two to polish the graphic and visual design.

BEIJING, Feb. 6, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Undated file photo shows actors performing during a rehearsal of China Central Television (CCTV) 2016 Lunar New Year Gala, in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua)

BEIJING, Feb. 6, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Undated file photo shows actors performing during a rehearsal of China Central Television (CCTV) 2016 Lunar New Year Gala, in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua)

Meanwhile, there's an elimination contest underway.

The first few rehearsals usually run over 5 hours, compared with a final performance evening of 4 hours and 40 minutes. That means some of the acts will be left out, which seems very cruel to those who are painstakingly preparing for it.

But the repeated rehearsals also afford acts an opportunity to hone their material, especially in comic sketches and in the crosstalk segment.

Music and dance acts - which together make up 80 percent of the show - are also undergoing final tweaks.

A major theme this year is ethnic music, with singer Sa Dingding performing a new song with elements of ethnic Yi music, and popstar Tan Weiwei turning to the ancient folk form of singing and narration known as Huayin Lao Qiang, which originates from Shaanxi Province.

Although in this day and age people have more choices of entertainment, places to go, and shows to watch, CCTV's Spring Festival Gala remains the longest-running and most-watched show in television history. It's also the most talked about trend on social platforms, confirming its central place in Chinese New-Year celebrations.

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