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Ushering in the Year of the Monkey: UPM's 23rd Annual Chinese New Year Celebration

It's serious monkey business at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, when the Museum ushers in the Year of the Monkey Saturday, January 31, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with its 23rd Annual Chinese New Year Celebration. Music and dance performances, food, healing and martial arts demonstrations, games, workshops, arts, crafts, children's activities and much more--topped off with the traditional Chinese Lion Dance grand finale--are all part of the spectacular day-long celebration, free with Museum admission donation ($8 general admission; $5 students and seniors; free for children under 6, Museum members and PennCard holders).

Music, dance and special performances bring the sights, sounds and spectacles of China to Museum galleries and auditoriums. New this year is Peter Tang's Chinese Ensemble, who will perform traditional and contemporary Chinese music using indigenous instruments including the Chinese violin (Erhu), bamboo flute (Dizi), Chinese zither (Guzheng), Chinese hammered dulcimer (Yanqin), and a Ruan, a round plucked instrument. The group plays in the Rainey Auditorium from noon to 12:45 p.m.

Peter Tang's Chinese Ensemble

Peter Tang's Chinese Ensemble performs traditional and contemporary Chinese music using indigenous instruments at UPM's 23rd Annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 31.

 

Yu Wei, a renowned dancer and choreographer from China, offers a dance performance in the Rainey Auditorium from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Her diverse program of dances is inspired by nature and blends elements of Chinese traditional, classical, folk, ballet and modern dance. Short films, called Intervals, are shown between the dances, explaining the artistic and cultural significance of each dance and depicting aspects of Yu Wei's life and training in China.

Yu Wei

Yu Wei, a renowned dancer and choreographer from China, offers a diverse program of dances inspired by nature and blending elements of Chinese traditional, classical, folk, ballet and modern dance.

 

Young dancers from the Plum Flower Dance Company perform in the Rainey Auditorium from 2 to 2:30 p.m. 

In the Harrison Auditorium, the 30-member strong Chinese Musical Voices, offers a mini-concert of classical and folk music, ancient and modern, from 1 to 1:30 p.m. The group, under the musical direction of Dr. Hai-Lung Dai, chairman of the Chemistry Department, performed at the Academy of Music in 1995 for the 125th anniversary of Philadelphia's Chinatown.

The Jade River Dancers present programs at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., drawing from their repertoire of traditional dances including the Hat Dance, Iron Fan Dance, and the Spinning Handkerchief Dance. Boys with the troupe demonstrate their dexterity with the giant Chinese yo-yo.

No Chinese New Year Celebration is quite complete without the traditional lion dance to chase away evil and usher in a year of good luck. After their Kung Fu demonstration from 3 to 3:30 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium, lion dancers and drummers from Cheung's Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy will wind their way outside, weather permitting, to the Trescher Entrance courtyard for a boisterous finale.

Chinese food--decorative and edible--is always a featured part of the festivities. Chef Joe Poon returns to the Museum to give his ever-popular afternoon vegetable carving demonstration from 2 to 4 p.m., when he quickly and skillfully turns modest vegetables into flowers, birds, and fanciful scenes. In addition, the Museum Cafe will feature several Chinese lunch entrees.

Chinese healing and martial arts continue to gain popularity in America, and visitors will have an opportunity to see and learn more about several traditions. Dr. Jingduan Yang, a resident at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, offers a lecture on traditional Chinese medicine in the Rainey Auditorium from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Dr. Ching-Yao Shi, an acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herb specialist, discusses the use and benefits of Chinese medicinal herbs at an all-day demonstration table in the Chinese Rotunda, and offers visitors an opportunity to have their pulses checked--an ancient Chinese method for evaluating a person's overall health.

From 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Lower Egyptian Gallery, there will be a Tai Chi demonstration by members of the Silver Tiger Tai Chi organization, and the Falun Gong Club of the University of Pennsylvania offers a demonstration of this widely-practiced system of healing exercises (currently under attack in China) based on the art of QiGong from 2:30 to 3 p.m. 

At 3 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium, members of Cheung's Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy offer a Kung Fu demonstration.

Activities for children and families abound.  Chinese New Year traditions, such as the Chinese zodiac and its legend, how the New Year is celebrated in China, and the customary decorations, are the subjects of a workshop run by Ting Ting Jin, Bilingual Counseling Assistant at the McCall School, in the second floor Nevil classroom, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Rainbow Child International offers storytelling, including traditional Chinese fables, in the Upper Egyptian gallery from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Artist Yu-Yang leads an ongoing monkey mask workshop in the Chinese Rotunda where children can learn about the Monkey King and make their own monkey masks.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum features a world-famous collection of early monumental Chinese art, on display in the majestic Chinese Rotunda.  A 19th century crystal ball believed to have been owned by the Dowager Empress serves as the gallery's centerpiece.

 Students from the University's Chinese Student Association will offer information tables about Chinese culture, and demonstrate and teach popular Chinese games such as Mahjong, Go, and Chess in the Rotunda throughout the day.

The Rotunda is also the site for demonstrations by area artists, including Chinese painting by artist Chen Lok Lee; paper folding by Mimi Sans and paper cutting by Fan-ling Chen; and Chinese calligraphy and portraiture by artists Yong Yang and Bi Rui-lan.

The Museum's shops will spotlight their colorful selection of Chinese arts, crafts, games and books for the event.

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 19, January 27, 2004

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