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The Year of the Monkey: Fort Collins Celebrates Chinese Culture

Chinese performers on stage dressed in red

Millions of people celebrated the start of the new year Jan. 1, but according to the lunar calendar, the new year is still to come.

Chinese New Year falls on Monday, Feb. 8, marking the start of the Chinese zodiac Year of the Monkey. Several hundred students and community members gathered at the Lincoln Center Sunday evening to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Cheng Xie performs a song in Mandarin at the 2016 Chinese Spring Festival Gala, accompanied by dancers Leyi Chen, Lin Zhang, Hong Wang and Yuexia Dou. The Fort Collins community gathered at the Lincoln center Sunday, Jan. 31. Photo by Jenna Fischer.
Cheng Xie performs a song in Mandarin at the 2016 Chinese Spring Festival Gala, accompanied by dancers Leyi Chen, Lin Zhang, Hong Wang and Yuexia Dou. The Fort Collins community gathered at the Lincoln Center Sunday, Jan. 31. (Photo by Jenna Fischer.)

Colorado State University graduate student Kathleen Hamel came to the show with her friend. “I knew it was Chinese New Year, but I had never seen anything like this before,” Hamel said.

The Confucius Institute of CSU organized the 2016 Chinese Spring Festival Gala. The event featured a calligraphy demonstration, traditional music and dance performances and a fashion show of traditional Chinese clothing.

The Confucius Institute of CSU strives to promote Chinese language and culture in Fort Collins.

For CSU professor Dr. Tony Cheng, sharing the experience with his family was very important. “For me, it’s a great acknowledgement of the Chinese culture,” Cheng said. “I’m Chinese, and I think it’s good for our kids to be able to know the Chinese heritage and celebrate it in Fort Collins.”

Cheng’s wife, Christine Dianni, was also in attendance Sunday evening. “For me, it’s educational to learn more about my husband’s culture,” Dianni said.

Students of the Hoaxing Chinese School display a variety of traditional Chinese clothing styles. The fashion show was a part of the Chinese New Year celebration at the Lincoln center Sunday evening. Photo by Jenna Fischer.
Students of the Hoaxing Chinese School display a variety of traditional Chinese clothing styles. The fashion show was a part of the Chinese New Year celebration at the Lincoln Center Sunday evening. (Photo by Jenna Fischer.)

“It’s getting a glimpse of how other people celebrate their life,” Hamel said. “Everyone is different, and it’s interesting to see the differences.”

Cheng Xie, one of the main performers, traveled to Fort Collins from Guangzhou, China. “I have been singing for 10 years,” Xie said. “I was kind of nervous. This is my first time coming to the United States.”

Xie sang several songs in Mandarin, her native language. She currently teaches music education at the Guangzhou Xinghai Conservatory of Music.

Although not all of the audience members understood the Chinese lyrics, they were still able to appreciate the rich culture and celebrate the New Year together.

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