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‘Time for family’: Dancing, drumming and fireworks to mark Chinese New Year

Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Chi Kung and Fighting Form demonstrations will be part of the Chinese New Year Performance on Jan. 25 at the Chinese Cultural Center. (Courtesy of Warren Rathjen)

Exciting martial arts combined with the colorful beauty of the dragon dance will be part of a Chinese New Year performance on Sunday, Jan. 25.

The performance at the Chinese Cultural Center also will feature a lion dance, chi kung and fighting form demonstrations, The Albuquerque Chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance dance troupe, drumming and fireworks.

Everyone in the community is invited to enjoy the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to get a good view of the performances. This is an outdoor event, so eventgoers should dress appropriately for winter weather.

The Chinese Cultural Center has been hosting Lunar New Year celebrations since 1988. The focus of the center is being a martial arts school for children and adults, and the performances will reflect that. Some background information about the martial arts performances and the traditional dances will be given at the event.

The new year is the Year of the Rat. The lion dance and dragon dance are staples of China’s largest celebration.

“The dragon dance, it’s to bring prosperity for the new year, specifically to bring rain for the harvest,” said Ray Tokuda, head martial arts instructor at the Chinese Cultural Center. “I think we have a nine-person dragon. The dragon would chase the pearl of immortality around the parking lot as a good omen for the new year. I think the tradition is to bring rain and a symbol of prosperity.”

The lion dance has a traditional story behind it.

“Lions are supposed to scare away evil spirits in the new year, so that’s the general story of the lion dance,” Tokuda said. “Apparently, there was a Buddhist monk and the lions helped him scare away evil spirits.”

Chinese New Year is a time for new beginnings.

“You clean out your house for the new year,” Tokuda said. “It’s a renewal and in China this would be the time all of China closes down for two weeks and everybody goes home. It’s their big national holiday like a combination between Christmas and Thanksgiving and kind of both of those rolled into one. It’s time for family. It’s time to look forward to good things and prosperity for the new year.”

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