Over the moon: Lunar New Year dance welcomes Year of the Rooster • Brooklyn Paper

Over the moon: Lunar New Year dance welcomes Year of the Rooster

Their lion eyes: Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will kick off its Lunar New Year celebration at Brooklyn Center with an upbeat northern lion dance.
Carol Rosegg

They’re feeling cocky!

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is fired up to welcome the Year of the Rooster with a vibrant show of music and dance that pays homage to the sacred fowl. “Lunar New Year Celebration: Year of the Rooster,” at the Brooklyn Center in Midwood on Jan. 22, will dazzle audiences while introducing them to Chinese culture and the intricacies of its zodiac, said the group’s executive director.

“I hope people get a sense of joy and celebration from the show, but we also hope to teach people and make them curious about the culture,” said Andy Chiang. “The zodiac has 12 animals but it also has five elements — earth, water, fire, metal, and wood — and so we have dances highlighting different elements.”

This year’s element is fire, so the program features birds sacred to Chinese culture with a fiery color pallet. Dancers will perform acrobatic feats while musicians blow the sheng — a traditional bamboo instrument said to be the sound of the phoenix, the rooster’s cousin. Together, they celebrate the bird’s arrival and embrace its spiritual significance, said Chiang.

“The rooster is an animal to wake people up and so there is a sense of awakening in the performance — coming alive with the New Year,” said Chiang.

Costumed dancers in bright red and gold will form a 20-foot-long golden dragon, and others will use ribbons to embody flames during a fire dance. Another elemental piece, the earth dance, highlights sharp martial arts movements and stresses the importance of harmonizing with nature, said Chiang.

“They are a reminder that our culture comes from nature and is always depending on the health of the mother Earth,” he said. “We always want to give recognition to that.”

And in the lobby of Brooklyn Center, a paper-cutting master will design elaborate patterns in crimson paper, allowing audience members to bring a piece of the celebration back home, Chiang said.

“Paper-cutting is very popular in China because anyone can do it. It allows people to be festive and decorate their home in an affordable way,” he said. “And so people can take a bit of the Lunar New Year celebration back into their home and hopefully get more interested in the craft and the celebration.”

“Lunar New Year Celebration” at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College [2900 Avenue H at Campus Road in Midwood, (718) 951–4500, www.brooklyncenter.org]. Jan. 22 at 3 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Fanning the flames: Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company’s program emphasizes sacred birds and fire this year, because the zodiac features the rooster and the element of fire.
Carol Rosegg

More from Around New York