Xīnnián kuàilè (New Year Happiness)

Today we welcomed in year 4715...the year of the Rooster.

 The first few years we lived in the area we were simply spectators at the big Chinese New Year Festival.

And some of us still are...

the boys met up with two friends and headed to the very tippy top of the arena
 But the girls are now performers.

Natalie and her friends used fans as props in their dance titled, "Spring Garden."

Because of the ways holidays fell from the time the girls started learning their dances back in the fall, there were only six rehearsals from start to finish before the big production.

And to be honest, for a while with this group of little girls it looked like the fan dance wasn't going to quite come together.  After all, they start with one paddle fan, transition to two paddles and then switch to their long scarf fan.

There was a whole lot of technique to master and not much time to learn it.  Somehow though in that last rehearsal the entire dance seemed to come together and the girls performed beautifully.  It was so exciting to see those flowing fans and the crowd rewarded their efforts well.

Next came DQ and friends in "Welcoming Spring,"  a dance performed with ribbons.

A number of girls weren't able to return to the dance troupe this year and numbers were down.  That meant that in order for all of the dances to be performed at the festival, several girls were going to have to repeat a dance from last year.

Because of Darcy's petite size, she was asked to stay in the ribbons group (to use one of the smaller costumes) instead of moving on to the batons dance.  At first she was disappointed as she felt it was a comment on her dancing ability.  But then she realized that if we ended up missing the festival because of China, she wouldn't miss batons...and in addition she decided she'd really be able to focus on facial expression as she was already comfortable with the dance.

And so my graceful girl shone.

Finally it was Kylie's turn.

She and seven other girls were "Miao girls with cups" in their dance.  Kylie had been excited about learning this routine for several years.

She knew she had the routine down, but was quite nervous about possibly dropping one of the teacups.  There are actually no elastics to hold the cups in their hands and they have to "chatter" the cups together throughout the dance.

She actually had included in her prayers in the days leading up a request that she not drop her teacups during the performance.  Poor kid, she was concentrating so hard that it was difficult for her to smile. She made it through flawlessly though!

There's an awful lot of rehearsal involved in under ten minutes of final performance dancing time.  But the girls take pride in connecting with their cultural heritage, so it's totally worth the drives back and forth to practices.

We're in hopes that our group will be able to include some of the brothers for a lion dance in the future!

Xīnnián kuàilè

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