Kids participate in Chinese New Year traditions |

Kids participate in Chinese New Year traditions

by Caryn Haller

As she has for the last 12 years, Sonia Carlson shared her passion for Chinese culture with about 50 Valley children on Monday.

Celebrating Chinese New Year, and ushering in the Year of the Dragon, Carlson taught the children at the Boys & Girls Club Chinese songs, dances and phrases.

“I want to bring diversity into the community. This is a primarily Caucasian dominant area. There are very few Chinese families here,” Carlson said. “I have a passion for this. We did a lot of shows growing up in China. It was a part of me.”

Carlson grew up in Southern China and remembers Chinese New Year fondly.

“We did firecrackers a lot, and it’s not allowed here,” she said.

Carlson’s daughter, Ingrid, and 8-year-old Andie Murray helped with the presentation.

Ingrid, 14, has performed Chinese dances since she was 3 years old. On Monday, she performed a coconut shell dance and played the violin.

Andie led the children in a ring dance and flower dance.

“I thought doing this was a good idea because part of my culture is Chinese,” she said. “It’s a way to express my culture.”

The children all smiled as Sonia danced gracefully through the audience with her rattle stick.

“I think it was really cool how she came down and danced and was not shy about it,” 12-year-old Orion Embree said. “It’s a different culture most people don’t pay close attention to. I would like to visit there.”

Hailey James, 10, watched in amazement as Andie led a group in the “What is Spring” dance, twirling a long red flower around as they danced around the floor.

“I really liked it. I thought that was really amazing because she’s only 8 years old,” Hailey said. “I like learning about the dances and songs and Chinese words.”

Anthony Hernandez, 9, stepped out of his comfort zone joining in on the flower dance.

“I liked going up there and dancing,” he said a little out of breath. “It’s way different from how I dance.”

Ingrid taught the children how to do the rouliball dance that requires tossing a sand-filled rubber ball in the air and catching it on a racket while dancing.

“I thought it was really fun and different from most things,” Nischelle Jordan, 11, said. “I think I did really good. I caught the ball almost every time.”

Ingrid and Sonia ended the program with the children doing a long ribbon dance.

“Dance is used in many occasions, at festivals especially,” Sonia said. “That’s part of how people express their happy feelings and love for their lives.”