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McLean Community Center to host free festival celebrating Lunar New Year

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will perform at The Alden on Feb. 10 after the McLean Community Center’s Year of the Dragon Festival to celebrate the Lunar New Year (photo by Anthony Alverez)

The Year of the Rabbit is about to give way to the Year of the Dragon.

To welcome the Lunar New Year, which will officially begin on Feb. 10, the McLean Community Center is inviting the public to a free Year of the Dragon Festival and a show by the New York-based Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company on Sunday, Feb. 4.

The festival will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the community center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) and feature local musicians, dancers and artisans as well as food samples. In a press release, MCC teases that attendees should keep their eyes peeled for an appearance by a dragon.

The festival will be followed at 4 p.m. by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance performance in The Alden, the community center’s performing arts theater. Currently available online, tickets for the roughly 90-minute show cost $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors and students, and $20 for MCC tax district residents.

Here’s more on the company from MCC:

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a professional touring company founded by the visionary choreographer Nai-Ni Chen. Her company’s legacy blends contemporary American and traditional Chinese folk dance styles, creating a unique and captivating experience that reflects the inspiring hope and energy of an immigrant’s journey.

This performance will feature dance, a live musical performance on traditional Chinese instruments as well as lauded company repertoire:

  • “Lion in the City,” a collaborative work by Hip-Hop legend Rokafella and Kwikstep with the company’s Director of New and Contemporary Dance, Peiju Chien-Pott.
  • “Dragon Path,” a new work by emerging choreographer Aloe Ao Liu.
  • “Mongolian Festival,” a new work created by resident choreographer Lawrence Jin.

“This festival is great for those who have never celebrated the Lunar New Year before as well as those who have grown up with this tradition,” The Alden Director of Youth Theatre Programs Danielle Van Hook said. “We love having additional cultural experiences prior to performances to provide a more complete picture of the cultures that art comes from.”

Spanning the 15 days between a new moon and full moon, the Lunar New Year is generally celebrated in late January or early February in China and other Asian countries with a significant Chinese population, like South Korea and Vietnam. Specific traditions vary between cultures, but they often involve family gatherings, food and musical performances.

Northern Virginia’s Vietnamese community kicked off festivities early this past weekend with the La Vang Lunar New Year Festival, which was expected to draw over 20,000 attendees to the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, according to the Washington Post.

Other scheduled events in Fairfax County include a Feb. 3 celebration at Tysons Corner Center, organized by the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and the 21st annual Lunar New Year Celebration at Fair Oaks Mall, which will unfold over two days on Feb. 17-18.

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