The Other New Year – And How to Really Celebrate It

Shen Yun Performing Arts, Manchurian Elegance, 2011. Photo credit © 2011 Shen Yun Performing Arts.

By Betty Wang

For Chinese communities around the globe, the Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year. But celebrating the Chinese New Year is now an event open to everyone, as thousands of New Yorkers already discovered this month.

Traditionally, Chinese New Year festivities span weeks and include many customs—from elaborate ancestor worship rites to daylong dumpling-wrapping parties, firecrackers, colorful lanterns and lion dances, not to mention an array of delectable holiday treats like steamed glutinous rice cakes and steeped fish. It’s no wonder that family members have always made the journey home, no matter how long it takes.

This year, the lunar calendar begins January 23. According to the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Dragon, the divine creature that for Chinese is a symbol of good fortune. And what better time to dive into the myths and legends of one of the world’s most ancient cultures?

And indeed, just ahead of the Chinese New Year, this ancient folklore was brought back to life on stage in full color at Lincoln Center by Shen Yun Performing Arts. For those who missed Shen Yun last week, or who wanted to go but could not get a ticket to the sold-out shows, fear not—Shen Yun will be returning to Lincoln in April.

The world’s premier classical Chinese music and dance company is committed to reviving 5,000 years of Chinese civilization. And revive they did. With an all-new 2012 program, the world-acclaimed company performed five sold-out shows at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.

Audience members described the show as “inspiring,” “mesmerizing,” and “uplifting,” saying they felt as if transported to distant lands and eras. This is accomplished through a combination of classical Chinese dance, refreshing music, gorgeous costumes, and animated projections that are like watching live 3D cinema, which places the entire stage in another world.

“Wonderful entertainment,” said Oleg Briansky, founder and director of Briansky Ballet Center, “beautifully rehearsed, and beautifully staged.”

“I cannot express in words the wonderful feeling that was resonating through me throughout the performance,” said Yanna Darilis, who has produced segments for NBC’s The Today Show and E! Channel.

Shen Yun is now in its sixth global tour. A show like no other, Shen Yun gives a glimpse into a realm that no longer exists anywhere in the world, not even in China.

And yet, while the show celebrates traditional Chinese culture, its themes are universal and its art speaks a language that all can understand.

After touring dozens of cities, Shen Yun will return to Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater from April 18-22. Those who want to catch its performances will have to act fast.

Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra. Photo credit © 2011 Shen Yun Performing Arts

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