Welcoming the Year of the Monkey


Taylor Egnarski

Opening Lion Dance is performed by the Zhong Yi King Fu Association Lion Dance Troupe. The dance was one of ten performances at the Chinese New Year Spring Festival.

On Feb. 6, the Confucius Institute held their annual Chinese New Year Spring Festival at the Center for the Arts in celebration of the Year of the Monkey. Members of the community were able to watch various performances including a Lion Dance and martial arts demonstrations.

This year’s celebration kicked off with the Lion Dance performed by the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association Lion Dance Troupe. The five dragons were each controlled by two people as they floated around the stage. The mouths and eyes moved in unison with the beat of the drums onstage.

Liz Reuter, sophomore fine arts major, said that the Lion Dances were her favorite.

After the opening remarks, Yang Lai and Jarrett Schnaare took the stage. The duo performed two songs, one of them a unique take on Metallica’s song “Fade to Black.” Schnaare performed on the drum set and Lai on the traditional Chinese instrument, the guzheng. The guzheng is a harp like instrument with Asian origins that requires finesse when plucking the strings.

“[The performances] will just be fun and interesting. Something different,” Confucius Institute office manager Emily Ballweg said prior to the festival’s performances.

Following the opening ceremony, members of the Living Stream Dance Company performed two dances. The first dance was set to a soundtrack of nature sounds as the dancers used bright blue cloths to emulate flowing water.

“My favorite part was the water dance; it was really fun to watch,” Kalina Hildebrandt, junior criminal investigation and history major said.

The audience got to experience two fan dances. The first dance incorporated a small drum, while the second dance was a sleeved dance in which the dancers wore outfits that had elongated sleeves.

The Confucius Institute’s youth class students performed two songs. The students danced and sang to “If You’re Happy” and “Happy New Year” in Chinese. In addition to their song and dance, the youth class students were handed red envelopes to give out to the children in the audience.

“In the Chinese culture, red represents good luck,” Aundra Shields, on behalf of the chancellor, said.

The celebration also included a martial arts demonstration by the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association. Empty hand and weapon kung fu were both demonstrated. As demonstrators exhibited their routine full of power and grace, the positive reaction grew.

Following the kung fu showcase, a performance by American students learning Chinese and the Chinese Master of English Education students. The students sang “Jasmine Flower” and danced to “Xiao Pingguo,” also known as “Little Apple.”

“We have been learning ‘Jasmine Flower’ for weeks,” Margaret Baumgardt, sophomore art major said. “ [We] said a few words in Chinese that we can handle.” The dance to “Xiao Pingguo” was performed by a handful of students.

The taiji fan demonstration was after the second dance company performance. Kath Zhang, Jenny Hao, Thomas Pitcher, Kevin Walls and Anran Zheng were among those who performed. Anyone interested in learning the art of the Tai Chi (taiji) fan style has the opportunity to for free on the UW-Platteville campus.

The festival came to close with the second and final Lion Dance by the Zhang Yi Kung Fu Association Lion Dance Troupe. Four of the lions made their way down the aisles while the white and blue lion stayed on stage and ate a head of lettuce. Traditionally, the lettuce head has a red envelope inside filled with money for the dancer to keep and then the lion spits out the lettuce. Just like the color red, the Lion Dance symbolizes good luck. The dance and festival came to an end when all of the lions lined up on stage with two of them holding up banners that reading “Good Luck & Good Wishes.”

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