Amelia Robinson says she’s performed the fan dance for three years as part of her education at the Victoria Public Chinese School. “I dropped my fan twice in a performance, it was really embarrassing!” (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Learning the dragon: Victoria students rehearse for Chinese New Year performance

Students at the Victoria Chinese Public School participate in traditional dances every year

On the top floor of the Victoria Public Chinese School, dozens of students dressed in vibrant silks and ribbons began warming up for their dance rehearsals.

Younger students clapped open silk fans, while older students worked to untangle the long tail of an ornate dragon costume.

“It’s part of the Chinese culture. The dragon dance, the lion dance are very important during the Chinese New Year,” said Kileasa Wong, principal of the Victoria Public Chinese School. “The drums and gongs chase away the bad spirits. It’s very important that the students can still learn the culture and traditions.”

Starting at age five, students at the school begin learning Chinese folk dances and taking part in competitions. As they age, they learn more dances, including a tai chi fan dance, a flower dance, and the dragon dance. Students from the Wong Sheung Kung Fu club also help by performing the lion dance.

Wong herself has travelled to China to learn new dances, and bring them back to her students. The dances become a staple in the students’ education, prompting former students to come back each year to help teach and perform.

“I’d say it’s probably invaluable considering how our community … it’s quite small,” said Gary Sum, who graduated from the school several years ago. “If we didn’t keep up it might kind of die with us.”

ALSO READ: Ringing in the year of the pig in Victoria

For Wilson Liu, coming back to the school after graduation brings back a rush of nostalgia.

“So many memories come back of playing with friends and always having good times. I step back coming through the front doors,” Liu said, adding that even with so much experience he gets nervous to do performances. “But, it’s definitely worthwhile going to competition with the school, using their name and trying to have fun.”

Competitions and cultural performances become a normal part of life for the dance students. While the younger students practising the tai chi fan dance were under 12 years old, many had years of experience.

ALSO READ: Victoria’s Chinatown looking to host a Chinese Canadian Museum

“This is my third year doing it, so it’s pretty fun,” said Amelia Robinson, age 8. “One time during a performance I dropped my fan twice.. it was embarrassing!”

Kenan Wong is a pro himself, having performed five times at age 10.

“It’s a bit nerve-wracking, ” he said. “The best part of it is the free pizza!”

The students will perform at the Victoria Chinese New Year Celebration on Sunday, Feb. 10 at the gate of Harmonious Interest in China Town, on Fisgard Street. The event runs noon to 3:30 p.m.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Students at the Victoria Public Chinese School practice the fan dance in anticipation of the Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday, Feb. 10 (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Students at the Victoria Public Chinese School practice the Dragon Dance in anticipation of the Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday, Feb. 10 (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Students at the Victoria Public Chinese School practice the Dragon Dance in anticipation of the Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday, Feb. 10 (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

SD62 student places third in province-wide French competition

12-year-old Sasha Zandieh won third with a speech on poet Pablo Neruda

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read