The Crow Collection of Asian Art will celebrate the Year of the Rooster at their Chinese New Year Festival on Saturday, January 28.
What started as a small celebration contained within the walls of the Crow Collection of Asian Art now spills out onto Flora and Harwood Streets.
“It has grown from a family day to a street festival. We’ve slowly encroached into the Arts District. Our first year outdoors was 2012 and it has grown from 10,000 people to 25,000 people,” Alyssa Arnold, Public Programs Manager at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, said.
This celebration will mark the new year as it corresponds with the Chinese zodiac and 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.
According to Chinese mythology, an emperor ordered a race of animals to select guards. The first twelve animals to cross the finish line became the animals of the Chinese zodiac and like astrological signs, the Chinese zodiac signs predict personality traits.
The rooster was the tenth animal to finish the race and roosters, people born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005, are believed to be easygoing, social, hard-working, dependable, intelligent and caring.
The Crow Collection of Asian Art will usher in the Year of the Rooster with a festival showcasing an array of Chinese performing arts and cultural activities. Face-changing, or bian lian, is not commonly seen outside China and will be part of the festival.
“Performers wear vividly colored masks, typically depicting well-known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head or wave of the hand,” Arnold said.
Beijing Opera’s The Drunken Beauty is a highlight of the festival. The performer will spend all day preparing for her performance of Beijing Opera’s Mei Lanfang’s masterwork.
“The performance is a beautiful depiction of the story of Yang Guifei, a scorned concubine of the Emperor Li Longji of the Tang Dynasty, who goes through a myriad of emotions and cups of alcohol,” Arnold said.
The North America Chinese Qipao Society will present a qipao fashion show. Qipao, also known as cheongsam, is a one-piece silk dress first crafted in the 17th century. The modern version of the dress accentuates the wearer’s figure and became popular during the 1920s when upper class women in Shanghai favored it. In 1929, the National Republic of China selected qipao to be one of its national dresses.
The Huayun Orchestra, the most prominent Chinese orchestra in the DFW area, will add music to the festivities with a variety of traditional Chinese instruments including erhu and banhu, string instruments; pipa, zheng, and ruan, plucked string instruments; bamboo flutes; and yangqin, a percussion instrument.
No Chinese New Year Festival would be complete without lion and dragon dances. Lee’s White Leopard Kung Fu School will present the dances and a kung fu show. During Chinese New Year Festivals, people feed red envelopes stuffed with money to the lions in hopes of bringing good luck and warding off bad luck.
“Lion costumes have to be ordered in from China and are typically very expensive and custom-made by artisans using paper mache. Lion costumes are worn by two people, one as the back legs and rear and one as the head and front,” Arnold said.
Dragons drive out evil, usher in good luck and represent nobility, prowess, and fortune. “Dragons are large ‘puppets’ made of bamboo hoops and cloth that are typically manipulated by poles carried by an odd number of people, typically 9, 11, 13, or 29,” Arnold said.
The Crow Collection of Asian Art’s Chinese New Year also includes a toddler play area with felt Chinese New Year foods, a Chinese fortune teller, and a Wishing Tree.
Food trucks will line up along Harwood Street and Monkey King Noodle Company will serve traditional noodle dishes. Hands-on art activities include making rooster headbands, tissue paper dumplings and red envelopes. To Save Juliet Chicken Rescue and Advocacy will offer information about its ex-fighting rooster rescue.
Arnold’s favorite part of the festival is the grand finale. “The best part is the fireworks at the end. The fireworks company choreographs the fireworks to music from the Spring Festival Overture. It’s three minutes of magic,” Arnold said.
The 18th Chinese New Year Celebration will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 7:30 p.m. and is free to the public.
For more information about the Crow Collection of Asian Art’s Chinese New Year Festival, visit crowcollection.org.
Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.