Behind China's dazzling New Year spectacle

Friday is Chinese New Year’s Eve, and celebrations are underway, including a televised New Year’s countdown. For a sense of just how big this is: more than 115 million people watched and streamed Super Bowl 50 last year, but one billion people are expected to watch the Lunar New Year Gala in China.

The festivities are a dazzling feast for the eyes, with over-the-top pomp that demands attention, a frenetic mix of dancers, athletes and singers, reports CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz. She went behind the scenes to see how it all comes together. 

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“This show is one of a kind,” said Yang Dongsheng, the TV special’s chief director and architect. “We have a wide range of routines to try appeal to everyone.”

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That range, of course, extends beyond the flashy stage. Propaganda, which has gained prominence under current President Xi Jinping, is also on display.
It’s a logistical high-wire act that involves 13,000 performers and cutting-edge technology.

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At the rehearsals, there was no shortage of bright colors and special effects. The performers have been rehearsing for months for five hours of eye-popping TV.
Behind the scenes, we were given special access to a most bizarre backstage. The hallways were a hodgepodge of elaborate – though at times, unidentifiable – costumes.

And in what may also make this the cutest show on earth, we saw children dressed up as baby roosters. After all, 2017 is the year of the rooster. 

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But the tight space and tighter schedule brings its challenges, said dancer Yu Qingqing.
“We often rehearse until 1 or 2 a.m. And some don’t have time to eat at noon,” she said in Chinese.

They grab a bite whenever and wherever they can. Still, Yu said it’s well worth it.

“It means so much to us in China,” she explained. “It’s hard to make the show’s cut. Only the elites survive.”

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The show can launch a career and boost the celebrity of even the biggest names. Celine Dion performed in 2013. This year’s headliner, Jackie Chan, was greeted with cheers at rehearsals this week. 

For Chan, and the legions of other performers in this year’s show.. the event marks not just a celebration of fresh beginnings.. but of patriotism and pride.