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Penn Museum’s 29th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration: January 23
January 19, 2010, Volume 56, No. 18


Chef Joe Poon, doing his amazing vegetable carving demonstration.

Roar into the New Year with the power and courage of a Tiger! The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology presents the 29th annual Chinese New Year Celebration, in the honor of the Year of the Tiger, Saturday, January 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Music and dance performances, healing and martial arts demonstrations, games, workshops, children’s activities, and much more—topped off with the traditional Chinese Lion Dance grand finale—are all part of the spectacular day-long celebration. The celebration is free with Museum admission donation ($10 general admission; $7 seniors; $6 students with ID and children [6-17]; free for children under 6, Museum members and PennCard holders).

Music, dance and special performances bring the sights, sounds, and wonders of China to the Museum galleries and auditoriums. Students from Chinese for Families, a multicultural Chinese language school offering Mandarin, martial arts, and dance classes, perform traditional Chinese dances, a martial arts demonstration, an original play, and present a Chinese New Year movie in Rainey Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. until noon. Next, Chinese for Families hosts a Tiger Craft Workshop in the Mosaic Gallery where children can try their hand at creating traditional tiger hats. The symbolism and power of the hats are thought to protect children from evil spirits.

Plum Flower Dance Company, a community dance club from Newtown, PA, performs dances such as the Mongolian Folk Dance, Han People Folk Dance, and the Flower Drum Dance, incorporating drums, ribbons, and silk fans, at 1 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium.

New to the Museum’s celebrations is the award-winning Yangyi Guzheng Academy student ensemble from central New Jersey. Yang Yi, academy founder and acclaimed guzheng soloist, presents the ensemble of six students in a performance of traditional Chinese folk music, at 3:30 p.m. in the Rainey Auditorium. The guzheng, a 21-stringed instrument (similar to a zither), creates a dreamlike, resonating sound that enhances many of the festivities and traditions tied to Chinese history.

Kurt Jung offers two presentations on the differences between Eastern and Western musical instruments, comparing the erhu (bowed string instrument) to the violin, the guzheng (Chinese zither) to the harp, and the ruan (lute-like plucked string instrument) to the Western-style guitar. The 11:30 a.m. program is recommended for interested adults, and the 2:30 p.m. program is designed for families with children.The presentations take place in the Lower Egyptian Gallery.

Visitors curious about the health benefits of Tai Chi can stop by the Lower Egyptian Gallery to see Master John Chen, Ba’Z Tai Chi & Kung Fu Studio, demonstrate Tai Chi from 1 to 1:40 p.m—and gain a state of relaxation while leaving their stress behind.

Acupuncturist Eva Zeller gives a lecture on A Brief History of Chinese Medicine at 11 a.m. Ms. Zeller, who works at Acupuncture Medical Practice in Center City, weaves fun tales into the history behind the development of Chinese medicine. She discusses table herbs, scorpions, earthworms, and stone needles, and their place in Eastern medicine. Between 11  a.m. and 3:30 p.m., in the Chinese Rotunda, Ms. Zeller and staff from the Acupuncture Medical Practice perform tongue and pulse evaluations, two basic Chinese health diagnostic techniques.

Members of Cheung’s Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy offer an exhilarating Kung Fu demonstration at 3 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium. Then, at 3:45 p.m., lion dancers and drummers from Cheung’s Academy wind their way from the Harrison Auditorium to the Warden Garden, closing the Museum’s New Year celebration with a traditional lion dance to chase away evil and usher in a year of good luck.

Chinese food—decorative and edible—is always a featured part of the festivities. Chef Joe Poon returns to the Museum to give his ever-popular afternoon vegetable carving demonstration from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Upper Egyptian Gallery, where he quickly and skillfully turns modest vegetables into flowers, birds, and fanciful scenes.

Activities for children and families abound. Visitors can learn more about Chinese New Year traditions, including the Chinese zodiac and its legend, how the New Year is celebrated in China, and customary New Year decorations, at a workshop run by Ting Ting Jin, bilingual counseling assistant at the McCall School, in the second floor Nevil Classroom, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Onlei Annie Jung, a Chinese brush painting and calligraphy instructor at the Perkins Center for the Arts, joins the festivities to teach visitors some basic brush strokes for painting and writing Chinese characters at a workshop held in Classroom 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.

The Chinese Rotunda houses the Chinese Art Marketplace, the site for demonstrations by area artists, including paper cutting and Chinese calligraphy. Marketplace activities take place from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and surround the Rotunda’s 19th century crystal ball—believed to have been owned by the last Dowager Empress, a Chinese ruler in the late 1800s.

Chinese New Year Celebration 2010 Schedule

11-11:30 a.m.–Traditional Chinese Storytelling–Upper Egypt

11 a.m.-1 p.m.–Calligraphy Class–Classroom 2

11 a.m.-3 p.m.–Chinese New Year Workshop–Nevil Classroom

11-11:45 a.m.–A Brief History of Chinese Medicine Lecture–Classroom 1

11:30-noon–Eastern vs. Western Musical Instruments (Families)–Lower Egypt

11:30-12:30 p.m.–Chinese for Families Dance Performance–Rainey Auditorium

1-2 p.m.–Chinese for Families Tiger Craft Workshop–Mosaic

1-2 p.m.–Plum Flower Dance Company–Harrison Auditorium

1-1:40 p.m.–Tai Chi Demonstration–Lower Egypt

3:30-3:50 p.m.–Guzheng Performance–Classroom 2

2-2:30 p.m.–Traditional Chinese Storytelling–Upper Egypt

2:30-3:15 p.m.–Eastern vs. Western Musical Instruments–Lower Egypt

2:30-3:45 p.m.–Calligraphy Class–Classroom 2

3-3:45 p.m.–Kung Fu Demonstration–Harrison Auditorium

3:45-4 p.m.–Lion Dance Finale–Warden Garden

Almanac - January 19, 2010, Volume 56, No. 18