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Confucius Institute Celebrates the Year of the Monkey

The University at Buffalo’s Confucius Institute and the Chinese Club of Western New York (CCWNY) presented their sixth annual Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 7 from 2:30-5:00 at UB’s Center for the Arts (CFA).

The free and popular event filled the CFA’s main stage theater, providing impressive performances that illuminated the beauty of Chinese art, culture, and language through music, dance, comedy, and martial arts.

The Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Each annual cycle is represented by one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, with 2016 representing the year of the monkey.

“The New Year celebration is for Chinese people, but it is also for many Asian people, and for people in WNY and across America,” says Jiyuan Yu, UB philosophy professor and Director of the Confucius Institute. “It is becoming a global event.”

In all, about 140 K-12 students from schools affiliated with the Confucius Institute performed on stage, along with approximately Chinese Club members from a variety of dance and chorus groups.

To kick off the event, a traditional lion dance was performed by members of the Gold Summit Martial Arts Institute in the Center for the Arts Atrium. Traditionally associated with good luck, the lion also made an impressive appearance during the show, with gongs and a large drum banging out the music.

As part of the opening ceremony, the Confucius Institute presented 12 students with Awards for Excellence in Chinese Language Learning. The students represented local schools that have developed Chinese language programs with Confucius Institute guest teachers or local Chinese language teachers.

The awardees are: Anya Acharya (Nichols School), Hope Choolokian (Niagara Catholic High School), Aaron Felong (St. Benedict School), Nicholas Gorman (City Honors School), Eddie Halady (Nichols School), Hannah Keller (City Honors School), Evert Owen (Lewiston Porter High School), Carlie Porter (Elmwood Franklin School), Stephen Rhodenizer (Lewiston Porter High School), Helena Schmitt (East Aurora High School), Anne Townsend (Nardin Academy), and Margaret Werner (Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart).

Other highlights included:

  • A performance of the popular song “Jasmine Flower” by the student chorus at Fletcher Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda;
  • A powerful duet, “The China Style,” by two outstanding Chinese language students at City Honors School;
  • Musical performances by the orchestra and choir from Lewiston Porter High School;
  • A martial arts demonstration by the Gold Summit Martial Arts Institute, with Shifu Erin Markle leading students in various kung-fu styles, including the monkey style in honor of the new year of the monkey;
  • A masterful performance of “Peacock under the Moonlight” for Hulusi, Violin, and Cello by Guojun Yang, Eric Yang, and David Su;
  • Outstanding choral arrangements of “Crescent Moon” and “The Shores of Lake Baikal” by the Chinese Club’s men’s chorus and mixed chorus;
  • A closing dance “The Red Sorghums” performed by the CCWNY Women’s Dance Club.

The Confucius Institute would like to thank the leaders of the Chinese Club of Western New York and the Center for the Arts production crew for their excellent work on this New Year celebration.