An icon of a red, rearing stallion appeared center stage as the curtains opened to reveal a 12-member instrumental ensemble.
Suddenly, strings and drums produced a wild strain of traditional Chinese music, furiously weaving staccato plucking and drum crescendos into the opening number.
On Saturday, 350 Chinese-American community members gathered at the St. Paul Student Center to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, the year of the horse.
Local cultural organizations, including the Minnesota Chinese Student Association and the University’s China Center, organized the annual event for the local Chinese-American community.
Kyle Tang, who emigrated from Taiwan three years ago, said the program is a way for the Chinese-American community to celebrate with others. On Tuesday, people in China will celebrate with fireworks, gambling and feasting.
Tang said he misses the high levels of anticipation.
“There is no feeling of the Chinese New Year coming,” Tang said. “In Taiwan, three days before you can feel it on the street.”
The program is also a way for recent immigrants to find familiarity in their new or temporary home. The Chinese associate the holiday closely with family, and most
international students’ parents are still overseas.
“It’s kind of a family reunion,” said Catherine Lee, chairwoman of the MCSA. “We like to get together because we feel more like home.”
Biing-Huei Su, president of the Minnesota Chinese Cultural Service Center, which planned the event, said organizers wanted the program to appeal to all ages.
As a result, the two-hour event included traditional Chinese dance and martial arts demonstrations, as well as a modern fashion show and talent display.
Children who attended the event delighted in watching child performers dance and sing onstage.
They received Hong Bau – red envelopes filled with money – which are given to children and senior citizens for good luck.
Although the masters of ceremonies spoke almost entirely in Chinese, Lee and Su said the event was not just focused on the Chinese-American community but was also an opportunity for others to learn about their culture.
Su said he hoped the event would help expose the community to Chinese-American culture.
“We’re involved in the community, and we want the opportunity to interact or exchange information with other communities,” he said.
Pamela Steinle welcomes comments at [email protected]