Dancing


Happy Chinese New Year!  新年快樂 (Xīn nián kuài lè)! :D

The Chinese New Year, probably more correctly the Lunar New Year, is celebrated by many Asian countries (countries that used to, or perhaps still do, use the Lunar calendar).  The day of celebration for Chinese New Year varies from solar year to solar year, because the lunar and solar calendars don’t exactly match up.  For 2011, the first day of the Chinese New Year fell on February 3.

Of course, Asians love to celebrate (I think, anyways), so it should be no surprise that, unlike the western New Year (from the solar calendar), the celebrations for Chinese New Year can last for two weeks.  In addition to that, I think in some countries, employees get the whole time off to celebrate.  (Why don’t we have that here XD?)  I’ve heard that the longest and most elaborate celebration occurs in Taipei, Taiwan, since Taiwanese culture still retains many of the old Chinese traditions.  (What we typically refer to as the country of China, from what I’ve heard, has a more current view, and so I think that their celebrations may not be as big.)  I’m not really sure on that, though; I’ve never been to any Asian country’s celebrations.

Anyways, Wikipedia knows more than me about all the details >__<;

There are a few traditions that I know of during Chinese New Year:

(1) Lion Dance. Several dancers don a long, elaborate “lion” costume and perform dances to Chinese music and drums.  That’s a terrible description, but XD;

(2) Rice cake and fish. Each year, you are supposed to eat rice cake and fish as part of the celebrations.  This comes from the Chinese saying 年年有鱼 (nian nian you yu), which means something like “abundant/prosperous year.”  This site has a pretty good explanation (and a pretty picture).  Basically, “nian” in Chinese means “year,” but is a homophone for the Chinese word “sticky.”  In Chinese, rice cake is called “nian gao” (“sticky cake”), so we eat rice cake.  “Yu,” which I think means abundant, sounds like the Chinese word for “fish,” so we eat fish also.  Kinda nifty, huh?  I think so, anyways ^ ^  Other traditional meals are dumplings and hot pot.

Fishy-shaped rice cakes I made.  You get both luckies in one :3

(3) Red envelopes. Chinese families also give out “hong bao,” or red envelopes, with money inside.  This is usually given from older generations to younger, so basically kids get a lot of money XP  BUT the catch is, the kids are supposed to do a special bow (it’s called “kuh to” or something, but my pinyin is awful so I can’t find out proper name for it) to their elders and wish them a happy new year.  A similar bow exists in the Korean culture, also.  (See the red envelopes in the picture above, in the bottom right corner.)

You can also say 恭喜發財 (gōng xǐ fā cái), which means “congratulations and be prosperous.”  I guess we’re congratulating each other on surviving the previous year and wishing that the new year will be prosperous?

A funny saying that comes off of this is [恭喜發財,紅包拿來!] (“gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái!”), which means “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!”  Usually kids will say this… jokingly.  Well, sort of.  XD

Also unlike western New Year, the Chinese New Year ushers in a special year for those whose zodiac sign aligns with the current year.  The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals, and each year is one animal’s year.  Anyone who is born in that animal’s year is then referred to as that animal.  A little confusing, so let me illustrate with this year’s animal.

This year is the Year of the Rabbit.  Anyone born in this year will be considered a rabbit, and for anyone who was born in a previous year of the rabbit (a multiple of 12 years ago, so 1999 was the previous one, 1987 before that… etc), this is considered their special year.  So congratulations, rabbits, it’s your lucky year! :)  I hope it is a wonderful year for you.

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年 年 有 鱼

Tonight, I went to see the amazing Radio City Christmas Spectacular with my parents ^w^  It was a wonderful, wonderful show, and by the end I couldn’t believe that it was over.  With a combination of singing, kick-dancing, acting, and a cute little storyline — not to mention the cheerful music, fanciful costumes, and eye-catching backgrounds — you can’t help but enjoy this show and feel the Christmas spirit.

Look at this picture~~  Isn’t that little girl cute?  And doesn’t it look so… so… Christmas-y and happy?

So originally, I had purchased tickets for Dec 29, and I got some really nice tickets for Orchestra level, row B (that’s the 2nd row from the stage, if you don’t count the “pit” or “floor” seats).  For some reason, they decided to cancel all the shows for the last week of December, so we had to quickly switch to the 26th, and the closest seats they had were in row M (and for the same price).  I was worried at first, but luckily our seats were right in the middle of the stage and far enough back that we could see everything.  I do believe that row B might have been too close.  Blessings that we had to change plans :3   So, if you ever plan to see this show (which you should!), keep in mind that seats a little further back are pretty good :)

Anyways, about the show~

Right before the show, one of the local high schools did a short dance performance to a version of the song Last Christmas with a similar feel to the Rockettes (the dancers in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular).  They were actually pretty good; I was impressed.  Future Rockettes?

There were a total of 12 scenes to the show.  It started right on time with a pretty fall of virtual snowflakes against a blue background, and then the screen lifted to reveal the Rockettes in reindeer dress, singing a medley of Christmas music (I think) and dancing.  I particularly liked their shoes, which looked almost like hooves :x  Santa came in at the end, on his sleigh, and they pulled the sleigh across the stage.  The next two scenes had a combination of dancing couples and Santa, singing and acting out the usual festive holiday scene at a Christmas party, and then more singing and dancing about Santa doing some “rock and roll.”

Reindeer Rockettes.

I think that the next few scenes were the highlight of the show.  In scene 4, the Rockettes came out in sparkly yellow dresses and danced to an instrumental rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  My favorite part of this was that the dancing and the music went along to each day’s “new” item.  I didn’t realize this until they were dancing to the twelfth day, when the music in the background included drumming and part of the dance included air drumming.  Memorize your gifts before you watch the show and let me know what else you notice, please XD

Side note (idea!): I think it would be fun to take a video camera around one day and randomly ask people what gifts were given on a specific day, just to see how many people actually know the song.  I suspect most people won’t know :3

Side note #2 (romantic notion!):  I think it would be really cute if someone actually did the 12 days’ gifts.  Okay, it’s completely impossible, but they should still put it in a movie.  (I feel like they have already?)

Side note #3 (random trivia):  The 12 days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas Day (December 25) and end on January 5.  And if someone actually did give the twelve days’ worth of gifts, their recipient would have at the end a grand total of:
+   12 partridges and pear trees
+   22 turtle doves
+   30 French hens
+   36 colly birds (I always thought it was calling birds)
+   40 gold rings
+   42 geese and who knows how many goose eggs
+   42 swans
+   40 maids (and presumably, 40 cows and a lot of milk)
+   36 ladies who are all very tired
+   30 lords who are also all very tired
+   22 pipers who are out of breath
+   12 drummers with broken drum sticks
Hey look, that makes a parabola.

After that, Santa revealed a letter he got from a “Puzzled Mom” about how he got gift ideas, and he said that his ideas were from the children.  He pulled a girl from the audience to come up and imagine, and that brought about their rendition of the Nutcracker.  It was the funniest Nutcracker ballet that I’ve seen, as each character was dressed in an animal suit.  The rats came out first, and then all the other characters in the Sugarplum Fairy’s Realm were bears.  The Sugarplum Fairy herself was this ridiculous brown bear in a hot pink tutu/ballerina outfit, with long eyelashes and hot pink eye shadow and lipstick.  She even had a pink wand XD  The Russian dancers were also brown bears, but in Russian outfits.  I thought the cutest ones were the Chinese dancers, who came out as pandas in little Chinese outfits.  There was also the gypsy belly dancer bear, with a veil on.  She was also pretty funny, if you can imagine a big fuzzy bear trying to be a sexy belly dancer XD  The last bears were triplet baby bears (I think they were supposed to be the little children dancers), which were pretty cute also.   At the finale, the “chosen” girl also came out to dance ballet in a pretty white outfit :)

Sugarplum Fairy bear, Russian bears, and little ballet girl.

I think the next scene was my favorite.  The Rockettes came out as toy soldiers, with long white pants, red jackets with white X’s and gold buttons, tall black hats, and big red blush circles.

They marched in along to music and did a lot of really awesome, difficult line dancing and marching.  I can’t even explain how awesome it was :D  At the very end, another soldier came in and shot a fake canon shot that popped out a flag that said “Kaboom!”  Then the toy soldiers fell down in perfect slow, slow motion.  So amazing!

Santa came in with another letter, this time from Mrs. Clause, who requested a special perfume that apparently makes you smell like freshly baked gingerbread :3  (I totally want that perfume.)  They said it’s J.B. or J.D. #39, and you can only get it at one store in New York (if it even exists) XD  So they took us on a trip to downtown Manhattan, and the dancer couples came out with Macy’s bags and presents to dance and sing about crazy Christmas shopping.  In the end, Santa got his perfume, and the Rockettes came out in their classic red and white costumes to dance!

After intermission, Santa came out again — along with like 20 other Santas XD  His song was “I’m There,” and he sang about being everywhere at once all the time.  It was pretty funny to see the Rockettes dressed up as Santas, especially since they were all so thin that they weren’t convincingly jolly-fat XD;

Then, we got to see Mrs. Claus!  She was the perfect Mrs. Claus, I think, with grey hair pulled back, glasses perched on her nose, and a colorful dress over classic-looking shoes.  She even had this wonderful Mrs. Clausvoice :D  That was what struck me the most :3  She and two (elf?) girls came out and sang about Santa being so difficult to find around Christmas time, as “Everybody’s Waiting for the Man with the Bag.”

When Santa came back at the end of that song, we got to have a glimpse of his workshop and his three helper elves.  The toys came out and danced, and then the Rockettes came out in a line as these adorable ragdolls.  They used those cute alphabet blocks as props, and at the very end they lifted them up to say “Merry Christmas!” :)

Ragdoll Rockettes.

The final dancing and singing act was titled “Christmas Dreams,” and the couples came out in these beautiful white suits on the men and white and blue flowing dresses on the ladies.  I really wanted (to make) that dress :x  So pretty!  The Rockettes also came out in white and blue outfits to do a final dance :)

The finale of the show was an amazing and surprising interpretation of the story of the birth of Jesus.  My dad kept repeating how he was so surprised that they put it in there, since people are usually so touchy about religion and being “correct” these days, but I was really glad that they had it in there :)  They called it the “Living Nativity” and had a very realistic and well-done presentation of Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus in the manger.  The story was narrated, and the bulk of this scene was the three wise men appearing and presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  They even had live camels, sheep, and a donkey traversing across the stage.  It was very, very well done, and they had this wonderfully written prose about the life of Jesus.  I copied it here as it looked on the screen they showed it on.

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He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.  Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never had a family or owned a home.  He never set foot inside a big city.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born.  He never wrote a book, or held an office.  He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.

While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him.  His friends deserted Him.  He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had — His coat.  When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.

Two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race.  All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this

One Solitary Life.

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The highlights of the show for me were:
– The costumes!  So amazing.
– The Nutcracker bears and toy soldiers.
– I really want that perfume o_oa
– Wonderful nativity scene (and I got to see the animals in a tent outside after the show :x)

In fact, I was even inspired to do some hip hop and more dancing after watching this :3  I really ought to go to some classes or something.  Mostly, I just really want to be able to do those high kicks, which means I need to relearn the splits.  Oh, so painful XD  And I also was inspired to do costuming again, because of those wonderful outfits~

It was really an amazing show, and it’s all about Christmas.  If you ever get a chance, I would definitely recommend you watch it!  For me, next year, I would like to watch it before Christmas so I can get into the Christmas spirit :)