Iowa City Area Chinese Association celebrates Lunar New Year at the Englert

The Lunar New Year Gala showcased a variety of performances at the Englert Theatre to celebrate the new year on Jan. 22. Music, dance, and food were just some of the festivities that rang in the new year.


Lillie Hawker

Concert goers gather outside Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter

Lunar New Year is the start of the lunar calendar — a celebration of new beginnings, reunion, and family.

The holiday is honored through music, dance, and food, all of which could be found at the Englert Theatre on Sunday.

The Iowa City Area Chinese Association hosted the Lunar New Year Gala and rang in the Year of the Rabbit. The event had nine unique performances of both music and dance from local performers of all ages. The festivities showcased themes of togetherness, celebration, and positive outlooks for the new season.

Each performer spent up to a month preparing for the event. Ming Hu, a pianist, and Yaxin Sun, a singer, performed two songs together, and shared that they rehearsed individually first, and then rehearsed together.

This was Hu’s third performance with the ICACA Lunar New Year Gala, and Sun’s first performance at the gala.  The gala had a wide range of performances, including traditional Chinese folk dances, choral music, children’s songs, and even modern K-pop dances.

“It’s kind of like Christmas, it’s the biggest thing for us,” Hu said in regard to the Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year is celebrated in many countries across the globe with a two-week festival, and it is common that students and employees get the days off to spend time with their families.

The gala also celebrated the recognition of Lunar New Year as a holiday that is now observed by the Iowa City Community School District.

“I think Lunar New Year is the festival I looked forward to the most in a year,” Hu said. “I see all my relatives, all my cousins.”

Hu has lived in the U.S. for the past nine years. She shared that the holidays are a difficult time to be away from her family.

“I usually just cook up a good meal with my friends,” Hu said. She said she often calls her family during the new year, as she cannot be with them in person.

Lunar New Year means something slightly different to each person who celebrates it, which is something that the event highlighted. Each performer chose a piece that meant something special to them — something that they saw as a good representation of the new year.

“It’s a family reunion,” Sun said about the holiday. “Everyone brings their best wishes for the next year.”

Sun said she connects and spends time with extended family, as well as enjoying festivities, such as food and fireworks in the new year.

“We stay together and watch the official Chinese television event from eight to midnight,” Sun said.

The television program is also like the gala, Sun said. It also includes dances, performances from singers and other musicians, and more.

In the spirit of the year, the gala showcased rabbit-themed decorations, including masks and stuffed toys in bright red colors. Many attendees and performers also wore red clothing in celebration and recognition of the holiday.

Facebook Comments