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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Year of the rabbit

Published: February 4, 2011
Section: Features

PHOTOS BY Lien Phung/The Hoot

The Brandeis Chinese Cultural Connection (BC3) celebrated the Lunar New Year Saturday in an evening of dancing, singing and other performances held in Levin Ballroom. The Lunar New Year, a festivity dating back hundreds of years in Chinese culture with a strong connection to myth and tradition, is one of the most important events in the Chinese lunar calendar.

According to the Chinese zodiac, which correlates each year to an animal in a 12-year cycle, this is the Year of the Rabbit. It is believed that children born during this year will have many traits commonly associated with the rabbit, such as kindness, sensitivity and cautiousness.

The celebration traditionally lasts for 15 days, with a specific custom attached to each day. Due to the proliferation of Chinese culture throughout Asia, many countries celebrate the Lunar New Year, also called the Chinese New Year. Rather than host a 15-day festival, BC3 hosted an evening of dance, music and fashion.

This year, the event showcased Chinese dancing and music, both traditional and modern, paired with colorful costumes and free Chinese food. As dancing is one of the focal ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the majority of the evening’s performances were dance routines.

During the first act, Calvin Chin’s Martial Arts Academy performed the Lion Dance, a cornerstone of Lunar New Year celebrations, performed to bring good luck in the coming year. The lion’s head and body were worn and controlled by two dancers, who twisted and turned in time to the music.

Dancers also performed the Mongolian Chopsticks Dance, a traditional Mongolian folk dance. This dance combined footwork with handwork, as the dancers struck chopsticks together to create a hypnotic rhythm.

Despite the prevalence of dance performances, the event also showcased a fashion show, a yo-yo “sensation” and a comedy skit, showing the fun and flexibility involved in this event.

BC3 celebrates the Lunar New Year with the Brandeis community every year and this year club-member Karen Hu ’12 was one of the event coordinators.

“I definitely focused on not making the same mistakes as last year,” Hu said, citing technical difficulties, overly lengthy performances, too many singing acts and not enough preparation for food service. “When people watch the performance, they see a smooth performance running and most don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, from managing the food to getting all the performers to decorating the space.”

Among the many changes, Hu orchestrated a switch to a larger venue. In past years, BC3’s Lunar New Year celebration was held in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater but, due to past overcrowding, the celebration was moved to Levin Ballroom, which seats approximately 200 more attendees.

Additionally, the length of the show was shortened. “This year’s performance had less acts than previous [years],” said Hu, “but we wanted to focus on the quality of the performance as opposed to having more quantity in acts and this was also a key success factor for the show.”

The show is geared toward both the campus’ Chinese and non-Chinese communities. Non-Chinese students saw the event as a learning opportunity and a way to connect with their fellow students.

“Not being of Chinese descent, I took it as a chance for me to learn something new about Chinese culture and it was all included in the show,” Simone Wornum ’12 said. “From dance to music, elaborate costumes and fashion to skits, the show was an awesome display of Chinese cultural contributions.”

Other students felt the same way. “I was really interested in seeing the different performances and dances,” Andy Hogan ’11 said. “While I have seen cultural events outside of my own before, it is always nice to see celebrations of other cultures.”

Although there is a whole year between this show and the next one, attendees and coordinators alike are already looking forward to next year’s performance.

“It was a nice window into some of the many cultural performances from Asia,” Ellen Abramowitz ’11 said. “I hope that this event grows and that other Asian culture clubs get more involved.”

Hu is anticipating next year’s performance as well, both as a BC3 leader and as a student passionate about Chinese culture.

“Each year is a foundation that sets higher standards for the next and I can’t wait to see next year’s show from the audience, as opposed to running around behind the scenes,” Hu said.