Chinese dance

Say goodbye to the volatile Year of the Tiger and hello to the more tranquil and steady Year of the Rabbit.

The Chinese lunar new year arrived Thursday — along with a new animal designee from the Chinese zodiac — but you can still ring in the occasion with a Chinese New Year Festival taking place Saturday at Chandler Center for the Arts.

“There are more than 12 dance performances and 18 performances total on the program, and the show will last more than two hours,” says Qiuzi (Vanessa) Hu, the festival’s stage director and an instructor at Eastern Art Academy in Chandler.

The academy, which opened late last year to students of all ages, teaches Chinese language, dance, painting, calligraphy, martial arts and yoga. Its students and instructors will perform many of the numbers in the show, including a kung fu demonstration and Tibetan and Mongolian ethnic dances.

The Tucson Sino Choir, an ensemble of Chinese American residents from the Tucson area, will also perform, along with a magic act.

The Chandler festival marks the beginning of a spate of Chinese New Year celebrations in the Valley. Phoenix Chinese Week will host several days of events — including photo exhibitions, sporting tournaments, an art contest and a banquet — leading up to the 21st annual Culture and Cuisine Festival taking place Feb. 11-13 at the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix.

That popular event features a Chinese Cultural Village, a Children’s Pavilion, a display of dragon boats donated by Phoenix’s sister city Taipei, Taiwan, and scores of authentic Chinese food vendors. Visitors will be able to check out history and invention booths, see attire from different dynasties, try their hand at free hands-on crafts, and learn to play the tile game mah-jongg. Live performances will include traditional lion and dragon dances.

The Chinese Cultural Center also features meticulously maintained gardens that adhere to feng shui and ying-yang principles and contain replicas of landmarks from five ancient Chinese cities.

The Chandler show is an opportunity for people of Chinese heritage to share their culture and celebrations with the larger Valley community, says Hu. Among its sponsors are the Arizona State University Confucious Institute and Arizona Chinese Culture Association.

According to the Chinese zodiac, each year corresponds to one of 12 animals, which are said to bring different characteristics to the year and personality traits to babies born in that year.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

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