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Penn Museum's 31st Annual Chinese New Year Celebration Welcoming the Year of the Dragon: February 4

January 31, 2012, Volume 58, No. 20

Old and new legends come to life through children's performances, puppet shows and stories by Chinese for Families (above).

Ring in the magical Year of the Dragon! Penn Museum presents its 31st annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 4, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day features music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, workshops, children's activities, and a grand finale lion dance. The celebration is free with Museum admission donation ($10 general admission; $7 senior citizens [65+] and military personnel; $6 students [with ID] and children [6 to 17]; free for children under 6, members, and PennCard holders).

Special presentations introduce the sights, sounds, and wonder of China, with colorful dance performances highlighting the day. The eight-member Penn Chinese Dance Club kicks off the festivities with four electrifying dance sequences accenting the ethnically diverse styles of Chinese dance. At noon, the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Lions conduct a Lion Dance workshop where attendees learn the joyful movements of the lion to the sound of the beating drum in this thousand-year-old dance. The 4- to 14-year-old girls of the MeiMei Dance Troupe entertain audiences with a patchwork of dances about legendary Chinese folk tales at 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania's Pan Asian Dance Troupe performs two engaging routines from China's long and prominent dance culture, including folk and modern Chinese, Tibetan, and Mongolian. At the 3:45 p.m. finale, lion dancers and drummers from Cheung's Academy wind their way from Harrison Auditorium to the Warden Garden with a traditional lion dance to chase away evil and usher in a year of good luck.

Guests can journey back in time with Chinese for Families. Old and new legends come to life with puppet shows and children's performances from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Everyone is invited to join the fun at a Trivia Game from noon to 12:30 p.m. Visitors can see themselves as an Emperor or Empress when they try some ancient-styled clothing on for size and have a picture taken, from 2 to 4 p.m. China's rich musical legacy spans 7,000 years. Qin Qian and Kurt Jung take visitors through a condensed history of traditional and modern music performing on instruments such as the erhu (Chinese two-string fiddle) and the yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer). Qin Qian is a well-known erhu performer from Nanning, China, and Kurt Jung is a local Chinese and Western music performer. Both teach Chinese music in the Philadelphia area and have published music books. The duo will demonstrate and discuss the differences and similarities between Chinese and Western music at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Visitors create Chinese-inspired crafts (above) at the Penn Museum's 31st annual Chinese New Year Celebration, on Saturday, February 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

A full lineup of presentations and drop-in workshops are ongoing throughout the day. Chinese for Families hosts a craft workshop where children can make their own dragons starting at 1:30 p.m. Also, guests can experience the beauty of Chinese calligraphy. Onlei Annie Jung, a Calligraphy and Chinese painting instructor at the Perkins Center for the Arts, teaches visitors basic brush strokes for writing Chinese Characters and painting at a drop-in workshop held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. She will also hold a workshop on the tangram, an ancient Chinese puzzle game, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Activities for children and families abound in the Museum's Chinese Rotunda at the Chinese Art Marketplace, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visitors can experience demonstrations by area artists, including paper cutting and Chinese calligraphy; learn more about Chinese New Year traditions, including Chinese zodiac and its legend and how the New Year is celebrated in China; and see the Museum's famous 19th century crystal ball—believed to have been owned by the last Dowager Empress, a Chinese ruler in the late 1800s.

The Museum's two shops, the Museum Shop and the Pyramid Shop for Children, offer special Chinese arts, crafts, games, and books. The Pepper Mill Café features Chinese lunch entrees and kid-friendly foods.

In China, the New Year celebration began on January 23, 2012 and lasts until February 6, 2012. It is one of the most important, and longest, festivals in China.

Almanac - January 31, 2012, Volume 58, No. 20