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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA honors Chinese New Year

Carlos Herrera
Carlos Herrera / The Daily Wildcat Shaolin Warriors from Tucson’s Sino Martial Arts Group perform during 2014 Arizona Chinese New Year Festival on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Centennial Hall in Tucson, Ariz.

The sixth annual Chinese New Year Festival will be held by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona this Saturday at Centennial Hall to honor the year of the sheep.

“There will be a range of performances to give the people of Southern Arizona a broader understanding of Chinese culture, dance and vocal performances and martial arts,” said John Olsen, co-director of the CIUA. 

The show will include over 200 artists and performers from all over the world.

“I am excited to perform,” said martial arts and Taiji instructor Junming Zhao. “It’s going to be great.“

The festival is designed not only to entertain, but also to teach the crowd about Chinese culture.

“Our mission is to create stronger bridges between the [U.S.] and China,” Olsen said. “Providing a cultural experience for Americans is an important component of that.”

According to Olsen, last year’s event drew a crowd of a little over 1,500 audience members, including many UA students and people from the community.

The festival is continuing to grow and has sold 2,000 tickets so far, according to artistic director Larry Lang.

“Everything is volunteered, some for fun, but many for cultural sharing, sharing with the community their cultural background,” said Lang, who organizes the performances for the event each year. 

Education plays a large role in the festival as well.

“A lot of the performers are students not only from the UA, but also from K-12 schools around Tucson,” Olsen said. “… As far as UA students, they are both on the stage as performers as well as in the audience.”

Lang and Olsen acknowledged the event wouldn’t be possible without time and energy from everyone involved to prepare for it.

“Preparation is an ongoing process,” Olsen said. “Very soon after Saturday’s event, we will get together and start talking about next year, so in some ways, it’s always going on in the background.”

This year, there are some additions to the festival that Lang predicts will be extra special.

One is the opening performance. The UA’s Purple Bamboo Ensemble will open the show with a song performed on traditional Chinese instruments.

The Origination of Life performance is a unique mix of ballet and martial arts. It is special in Chinese culture because it reflects one of its most important stories.

“The whole universe, it comes from two, Ying and Yang, the male and female — that’s where the life comes from,” Lang said. 

“The highest mountain is Everest and the water from the mountain comes down the Yellow River, and that’s where life comes from. And we use that story to make a dance combined with martial arts.”

Many of the performances hold great meaning in the Chinese culture.

“Everything is new to most American audiences,” Lang said. “There will be a big cultural combination through the performances.”


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