For one spectacular night, the rich, varied traditions of China are brought to the Central Kentucky stage in a community celebration. The Chinese New Year — 2013 is the year of the snake — will be celebrated Saturday by the Kentucky Chinese American Association.
Association President Wei Lou and Cheryl Pan, artistic director, answered some questions about the event — now in its eighth year — that is becoming a much-loved tradition in the Bluegrass.
When does planning for the celebration begin?
We started planning for the Chinese New Year celebration 2013 right after the show for last year was done. So planning takes almost one year.
When does practice begin?
Practice begins in the summer break, and most of the time we practice on weekends and holidays.
Do acts have to try out?
Most acts in the show are performed by KYCAA members and KYCAA Chinese School students who have practiced for a long time. Those acts are carefully selected and excellent, and they do not have to try out. However, we will have a rehearsal that will test the acts and eliminate some acts which are not ready for the show.
I know you bring in special acts. How are those picked?
Our dance artist, Cheryl Pan, choreographed and directed most acts every year. We also invite special acts performed by professional artists and acts from other groups who are interested in participating the Chinese New Year celebration, and promoting different cultures through the suggestions and connections of friends.
It is such a unique show. What do you hope American audiences take away from the show? What do you hope they learn about China?
There are many different ethnic groups with different cultures in China, and all of them have very interesting and unique customs, languages and styles. We hope to provide a window for others to see into the beauty and strength of Chinese cultures that have lasted thousands of years, and are close to our families and hearts. We want to show people from different countries with different cultural backgrounds who share the passion for performance, art, dance and music. We also portray the love, joy and other feelings shared by the people living in different countries and different times.
Are there some key participants, such as the artistic director, who have been involved a long time?
Cheryl Pan ... is the key person to the success of the show. Cheryl is a well-known dance artist in Kentucky. She has choreographed and directed most of the dances and acts. She also co-hosts the show. She also actively participates in community services and devotes a lot of time serving this community. She was a founder of the KYCAA and worked as a KYCAA officer for years. Currently, she chairs the KYCAA art and music committee and teaches dance at the KYCAA Chinese School. She has made tremendous contributions.
KYCAA art and music committee co-chair Weizhong Jing and committee member Chi She are both involved in organizing and directing acts and participating in dance and singing.
Is there a theme each year?
Yes. The Chinese Zodiac designates an animal for each year, totaling 12 animals. The theme is the good attributes of the Zodiac animal. The year 2012 is the year of the Dragon. Dragon symbolizes energy, power and confidence. This is the year of the snake. The snake is thought to be beautiful and wise in Chinese.
Some of the costumes are amazing, where do they come from?
The beautiful costumes seen in the show are provided by Cheryl Pan. She has a large collection of these colorful, cultural costumes, mostly brought back from China, ready for performances at any time.
It has become such a hot ticket. How quickly do they sell out?
They usually sell out within a couple of weeks.
How does it help the Chinese community in Kentucky to come together this way?
The Chinese New Year is a time for the reunion of all family members in China. This is also a time for the Chinese community here to spend time with family and friends, revisit the past and embrace the future. This is also a time for all Chinese to practice traditions and review our cultures. There is no better way to celebrate the present than to honor and strengthen these cross-cultural bonds by sharing our own beloved culture to other families and friends.
IF YOU GO
Chinese New Year celebration 2013
When: 7-9 p.m. Jan. 26. 4-6:45 p.m. holiday market featuring food, crafts, displays.
Where: Lexington Opera House, 401 West Short Street
Tickets: $15-$50. Free to Kentucky Chinese American Association members.
More information: (859) 233-3535 or go to KYCAA.org.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: Bluegrassmoms.com.