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New Year brings ancient China to modern Sydney

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February 16, 2018

Mastering the art of Chinese dance means racking up thousands of air miles for Cynthia Xin, who frequently visits China to train for the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival.

Locals can enjoy Ms Xin’s elegant ‘Rites of Mist’ dance, depicting the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy, on 17, 23 and 25 February as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Luoyang, a city once home to 97 emperors and 13 ancient dynasties, is renowned for its classical dance.

“Luoyang is an old city in China’s Henan province and it’s an ancient city where many emperors used to reside. It’s a very beautiful city with lots of heritage,” Ms Xin said.

“I’ve been in Sydney for four years now but I go back to China regularly to practise my traditional Chinese dancing. I’m in my final year at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and want to stay here but still travel back to China to learn more about traditional Chinese dance.”

Ms Xin will wear long flowing silk that represents a calligraphy pen and ink for her festival performances at the Lunar Theatre Show at First Fleet Park in the Rocks.

“The way I perform is like Chinese calligraphy and Chinese brush painting and I use dance to show the spirit and beauty of these,” she said.

“Chinese brush painting is just on a page but dance is more vivid. Fine movements are needed to represent Chinese brush painting in dance.”

Her father, also from Luoyang, inspired the idea of a dance based on calligraphy, as he was a calligraphy expert and Ms Xin followed suit for a few years until dancing started to take most of her spare time.

“I always wanted to be a dancer and, although performing in the Chinese New Year celebrations in Sydney means I won’t see my family, I will try to persuade them to visit instead.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said community performances were at the heart of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival.

“Cynthia’s show is a shining example of the internationally acclaimed talent we have all around us here in Sydney and I encourage all Sydneysiders to attend at least one of the hundreds of community performances and events around the city this Chinese New Year,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Sydney’s Chinese New Year celebrations are one of Australia’s biggest cultural events and taking part in a performance or watching one of the many spectacular shows in the city is a wonderful way to welcome the Year of the Dog.”

Ms Xin, who lives in Kingsford, said she will miss her hometown this Lunar New Year but is looking forward to the buzz of the crowds celebrating the festival in Sydney, the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside Asia.

“In China there are lots of fireworks and we have many traditions for Chinese New Year – for example on the first day everyone wears new clothes and on the second day we visit family,” Ms Xin said.

“In China, we spend most of our time with family but in Sydney there are more things to do. There are lots of activities with crowds of people on the streets.”

You can catch Ms Xin’s performance in the Community Performance Program on Friday to Sunday on 16-18 and 23-25 February, 4pm followed by the Lunar Spectacular Show, 7pm.

Join us in this free celebration of culture, community and friendship. Performers from a wide range of community groups will take to the outdoor stage with traditional and contemporary performances at First Fleet Park in The Rocks.

From 5pm, groups specialising in choir performances, opera, classical music, fashion shows, tai chi and kung fu are sure to delight.

Featuring the best of community performances, the Lunar Spectacular Show is a one-hour curated program that showcases traditional Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean dancing; Japanese hip hop; Korean drumming; the Chinese New Year Festival Dancers; and stilt walking.

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