(Advocate file photo).

Athletic martial arts dancers will usher in Chinese New Year in Red Deer

Professional lion dancers from Calgary will perform at Feb. 2 festivities

For the first time ever, leaping, kicking professional lion dancers will usher in the Chinese New Year in Red Deer.

At a Feb. 2 celebration at Festival Hall, about 20 martial artists from Calgary will be performing “full boar,” said one of the event’s organizers, Lawrence Lee of the Red Deer and District Chinese Community Society.

This description is especially appropriate since the dancers will welcome the Year of the Brown Earth Pig, according to Chinese astrology.

Lee said he’d tried for years to hire professional lion dancers to perform the kind of feats he remembers being thrilled by when his parents took him to new year’s celebrations in Calgary or Edmonton.

The lion (sometimes confused with a dragon) dance is traditionally performed by a row of athletic dancers under a streaming gold and red costume.

Lee said it’s done to percussive music from drums and gongs that is meant to scare away “bad spirits” at the start of the new year.

“It’s done like a Chinese blessing as they go through the crowd, throwing out candies to the kids.”

While the high cost of hiring professional lion dancers was out of reach for the 260-member society for many years, sponsorships from RBC and TD banks made it possible this year, said Lee.

He’s very excited to share this treat with community members at the ticketed celebration that includes other Chinese entertainment and a buffet dinner.

The pig is the last sign of the zodiac in the 12-year Chinese astrological cycle. It’s described as compassionate, generous and diligent.

Although not the smartest animal, according to traditional lore — it’s associated with laziness and clumsiness — the pig is thought to be calm when facing trouble, has a sense of responsibility, and finishes tasks properly and carefully. It’s also associated with wealth.

The personality traits of the Earth Pig lean toward high sociability and maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

A limited number of tickets (costing $30 for adults, $20 for youths and seniors and $5 for children) are still available to the festivities that start at 5 p.m. The lion dance is at 5:30 p.m. sharp.

For more information, call Lee at 403-318-8862.


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