More information about the UA Confucius Institute is available online at confucius.arizona.edu.
Arizona's premier event celebrating the Lunar New Year returned to the University of Arizona's Centennial Hall with an abundance of culture, color and creativity.
In its eighth year, the Arizona Chinese New Year Festival featured more than 200 artists and performers, including special guests from Shaanxi Normal University and Qingdao 16th Middle School in China.
Presented by the UA Confucius Institute, or CIUA, and the Tucson Sino Choir, the event rang in the Year of the Rooster with Chinese folk singers, dancers, violinists and martial-arts masters. The Lunar New Year begins on the first new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, marking an occasion celebrated around the world.
In keeping with tradition, each year is assigned an animal and an element, with 2017 being represented by the fire rooster, the first of its kind in 60 years. Those born in rooster years are said to be loyal, hardworking and social.
While festival participants celebrated the rooster, artistic director Larry Lang said geographical distinctions brought the most influence to this year's event.
"Since Shaanxi Normal University sent its performance troupe to Tucson, we had a very strong northwest style onstage. Generally speaking, people from northern China like mountains, whereas people in the south might prefer water," said Lang, who also serves as director of the Center for Chinese Music at the UA's Fred Fox School of Music.
Although the event was lighthearted in nature, Lang explained that it represents more than mere entertainment for the Chinese community in Tucson and beyond.
"When I came to the U.S. 30 years ago, China was a country far away from most Americans," he said. "Today, the world is a village; China is our next-door neighbor. To understand each other is more important than ever, and to share cultures is one of the best ways to achieve this, especially for our younger generations."
CIUA, with support from the UA Office of Global Initiatives, seeks to promote cultural exchange and advance friendly, productive relationships between the U.S. and China. The institute is a collaboration between the UA and the Hanban, a Chinese public institution committed to providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources worldwide.
The CIUA is committed to language instruction and teacher training; health promotion and wellness of the mind and body with a focus on traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts; and Chinese music and performance arts appreciation and instruction.
With support from sponsors, CIUA is growing. In 2016, it established nine affiliated Confucius classrooms and a number of teaching sites in Tucson to provide Chinese language and culture classes. CIUA maintains the Chinese Wushu Center; the Center of Chinese Medicine, Health and Wellness at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; and the Chinese Music Center at the Fred Fox School of Music.