By Felicia Ho (V)
Weaving through the packed audience, the Form II Chinese class opened up the Lunar New Year Assembly with a lively performance of a traditional dragon dance. Dragons are recognized as auspicious creatures in Chinese legend and symbolize good luck for the New Year. The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, begins on February 16 of the Gregorian Calendar, or the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month. It lasts around 23 days according to old folk tradition, ending on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month of the New Year. Based on the Chinese Zodiac twelve-year cycle, this year also marks the arrival of the Year of the Dog.
Brian Li (IV) and Natalie DeVito (II) served as the announcers for the assembly, setting the tone for the rest of the program by noting that the Lunar New Year is an important time of reunion and celebration.
First, Ethan Chung (VI) on the cello and Rebecca Lin (VI) on the violin performed a duet entitled “Swan Geese.” DeVito described the meaning of the title as “swans migrating home as spring approaches… as do so many people around the world as they return to their families during the Lunar New Year.” To bridge the gap between old traditions and new ways, Lin and Megan Pan (VI) performed an excerpt of the popular K-pop song “Tomorrow, Today” from the JJ Project. B. Li explained the song as “telling the feelings of youth and highlighting the difficulty of making decisions about the future.”
The Taiko Drumming Club delivered a rendition of “Matsuri,” a piece often played at Japanese festivals. The performance featured solos by Michael Gallagher (V), Pan, and Justin Li (III). Although Taiko drums are widely known as Japanese percussion instruments, they have Chinese and Korean roots, having been introduced to Japan in the 6th century CE. In closing, to celebrate the diversity of the Chinese people, the Purple Swans Dance Troupe, a performing arts group dedicated to spreading Chinese culture that features many members of the Pingry community, performed a dance entitled the “Delicate Beauty of the Hui Maiden.” This dance represents the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in north-central China, a region that is home to a large indigenous Chinese Muslim population.
Before dismissing the assembly, B. Li and DeVito wished everyone “Xin nian kuai le,” which in Mandarin means “Happy New Year!” Gong xi fa cai and have a prosperous New Year. Welcome to the Year of the Dog.