By Sherica Daley | [email protected]
“What year are we entering this Lunar New Year?” host Kitty Kan asked the audience with Queens residents shopping in the Queens Place Mall. “The year of the dragon!” shouted excited participants as they lined up to watch The Lunar New Year Celebration in collaboration with The Chinese Cultural Center(NYCCC), The Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and Gong cha Bubble Tea. The show participants enjoyed free veggie and pork dumplings and green tea bubble tea samples.
The Lunar New Year is a yearly celebration that originated in China. The legend behind this tradition is the Chinese beast called Nian, which means “year” in Chinese. Nian would stalk the people in China in the Spring. Nian did like loud noises, fire, and the color red. These things were used to scare the mystical creature away. The Chinese celebrate this holiday with red lanterns and money in red envelopes called “hong bao” to signify good fortune, and dance along with the Chinese dragon to chase away evil spirits like Nian. The Chinese Dragon is a symbol of power and ambition. It is considered the luckiest sign out of the Chinese symbol.
“We wanted to celebrate the Lunar New Year with the community by sharing the beauty of the Chinese culture through folk and ethnic dances, traditional music, and martial arts,” explained Kan. Kan first joined the NYCCC as a student taking classes in Chinese classical, sword and ethnic dances.” I was invited to perform with the resident company as I had experience in wushu, performance-based Chinese martial arts.” said Kan
The show began with a sword dance with Jason Lee who demonstrated Chinese sword art and sword techniques for the audience. Next dancers Mingjun Han and Shuning Huang performed a ribbon twirling dance called Dunhaung, in the lucky color red. Chinese ribbon dance has been performed in Chinese culture for thousands of years. The dance is enchanting, depicting the gods and the nymphs flying in the sky. It is both philosophical and mythical.
The show had two sessions, and during the second session, participants watched the Northern Lion dance performed by Han and Huang in gold and blue. The Northern Lion Dance is a dance from Northern China. It symbolizes the purpose of the lion is to bring wisdom and luck and is popular for performing at business openings and religious ceremonies. “It was a lot of fun for me to interact with the audience as the lion and hear their joy and laughter while parading around” explained Kan.
The show closed with soloist Wei Sun , who performed the Guzheng, the traditional Chinese plucking instrumental, which is a hybrid of a violin and guitar. Sun is an artist and teacher of the Guzheng based in New York City. Wearing the lucky color of red, Sun performed an original piece on the Guzheng.
To continue the celebration of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon. The NYCCC will continue to have shows throughout the year. The shows will celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in May and the Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Moon Festival, in September. There will be outdoor programs in the summer and fall participating in different festivals across the tri-state area.
“The message and goal of these shows, as we travel throughout the city is sharing Chinese culture through the arts to promote understanding and appreciation” explained Kan. For information on upcoming events, can be mailed to [email protected].