Hundreds of people gathered in the playhouse to watch the annual 2016 Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, February 6th.
It is the most important time of the year for many Asian countries. Lunar New Year celebrations mark the end of the lunar calendar, which, unlike the Western calendar that stems from the Earth’s rotation around the sun, follows the moon’s orbit around Earth.
The Chinese Cultural Association of New Brunswick (CCANB) planned this show for five months. Hundreds of volunteers and performers were involved in it. This year’s theme was ‘Impressions of Jiangnan’ inspired by the lifestyle and rivers in southern China and expressed through lion dances, flag dance, orchestra music, vocal duets, children’s choirs, and Chinese instruments.
Three lions danced on the stage as performers banged traditional drums, creating a flurry of noise and colour. The lion dances are performed by two dancers in a lion costume, rather like a pantomime horse. The performers become the body of the lion: the one in front is the head and front limbs, the one behind is the back and hind legs. They imitate a lion’s various movements or demonstrate martial arts agility.
Several dance performances represented the nature and lifestyle in Jiangnan. The clothing and music resembled the movement of flowers, the wind, mountains, and animals from Southern China. Performers wore bright colors, such as blue, green, red, and gold. In Chinese tradition, these performances bring prosperity and good luck.
One of the hosts, Richard Duo, moved from China 12 years ago, and he considered it to be a bridge to connect newcomers to the multicultural spirit of New Brunswick. “We can showcase Chinese culture to the Fredericton community in general and let them know that a community like this exists,” Duo said. “Also, right now, there’s a lot of newcomers from China who have come to Fredericton and New Brunswick, so we’re here to show them that we’re here to welcome them.”
According to the Great Race legend, the monkey came in ninth place in a race against 12 other animals, thus constituting the ninth year in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Those born during the Year of the Monkey are said to possess characteristics like curiosity, cleverness, and a penchant for mischief.
This year, CCNB invited two famous Chinese artists: Yang Jian, China’s top jinghu player and renowned Chinese opera educator, and Pei Yan, a well-known Chinese Yue opera actress and singer. The Jinghu, an instrument of two strings, is considered to be one of China’s most emblematic symbols and is used to perform in Chinese opera. Yue opera is the second most popular opera form out of over 360 opera genres in China.
Bethany Young and Charlotte Bertone came to the show to watch their cousin’s performance. This show makes them get a deeper understanding of Chinese traditional art. “I loved the dragon, and the last number was a man playing a Chinese instrument, which I forget how to pronounce. It was amazing. They did a really good job,” Charlotte Bertone said.
The Chinese Cultural Association of Fredericton was established in 1977 and started as a co-op language program for Chinese children. Since then, hundreds of Chinese people have moved to New Brunswick and joined the association. This celebration is a way to promote and preserve cultural values in the province.