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Chinese New Year at library will feature traditional dancing

by Joyce Hollister

Sonia Carlson brings traditions in Chinese dance to Carson Valley at least twice a year, because she loves to dance.

As a child in Fu Jian province in China, she danced at home for her own enjoyment, and after living in the U.S. for 14 years, she keeps up her dancing by performing for children at public schools and private preschools.

“I try to do two dances a year for the community,” she said. “I really enjoy sharing the culture with the community. The community is very good to me. All the people are very friendly.”

Carlson has lived in Carson Valley for the past five years.

She will explain Chinese New Year traditions to patrons of the Douglas County Public Library and demonstrate four dances Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. in what is being called a program for families.

“I picked four different pieces of music,” Carlson said. “This is all new – all the costumes, too.”

When friends return to China for a visit, she asks them to pick up new music for her, as the selection in the U.S. is poor. A childhood friend who lives in China makes her costumes for her.

Music Carlson will use at the library performance include a folk song about the new year featuring the traditional Chinese lantern, a song that tells a children’s fairy tale and a newer piece that she says varies from the traditional theme and is about “beautiful youth” and “keeping youth in your heart.”

The last piece is what the Chinese call a minority dance from Xin Jiang province. Minorities are few in China, and the music is different from traditional Chinese music, Carlson said.

Chinese music is subtle. The story in a song is told in symbols, she explained. The Xin Jiang piece is about the young man who plants grapes and goes to join the army before they mature. A young woman waters his vineyard for him and when the grapes are ripe, she sends some to him. The meaning behind the song is that both the young man and his grapes are going through a growing process.

The library program will include Chinese-style refreshments and a reading for children of Chinese tales. This year is the Year of the Snake.

For information, call the library at 782-9841.