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The P.E.I. Chinese community will be celebrating the beauty of its culture during new year festivities

Yuanyuan rehearses a Chinese fan dance while preparing for P.E.I.’s first Chinese Chi-Pao Queen contest, which will be part of the Chinese New Year Celebration next Saturday at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. The contest will include fan dances, umbrella dances and lantern dances. MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
Yuanyuan rehearses a Chinese fan dance while preparing for P.E.I.’s first Chinese Chi-Pao Queen contest, which will be part of the Chinese New Year Celebration next Saturday at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. The contest will include fan dances, umbrella dances and lantern dances. MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN - The Guardian

A group of Chinese Islanders will be showcasing the beauty and elegance of their culture next weekend.

Organizers said the province’s first Chinese Chi-Pao (Dress) Queen contest is set to be a highlight for the Chinese New Year Celebration, which is being hosted by the Chinese Canadian Association of P.E.I. at the Confederation Centre of the Arts next Saturday.

The contest will see 19 Chinese Islanders, as well as six of their children, showing a mix of colorful traditional Chi-Pao dresses and accessories.

Diana Pang, the show’s director and producer, said the contest is meant to showcase not just the beauty of the dresses but also of the women themselves, with none of them having any previous experience performing.

Having rehearsed for the past month, Pang said she has been excited to see how each performer has improved both their skills and confidence.

“They’re all very beautiful, but thanks to the training, each of the performers has rediscovered their own beauty again,” said Pang. “Everyone can stay beautiful, no matter what your age is, you can always find inner beauty and show it on the outside.”

Julie Feng wears a dress symbolizing a phoenix while rehearsing for the upcoming Chinese Chi-Pao Queen contest being held on Saturday as part of the Chinese New Year celebration. The contest aims to showcase the beauty of traditional Chinese dresses and culture. MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
Julie Feng wears a dress symbolizing a phoenix while rehearsing for the upcoming Chinese Chi-Pao Queen contest being held on Saturday as part of the Chinese New Year celebration. The contest aims to showcase the beauty of traditional Chinese dresses and culture. MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN

The New Year celebration will see a mix of other performances throughout the event.

The contest will be held just before the event’s intermission, with audiences then voting for their three favourite performers.

A panel of judges will also get to vote and will judge competitors not just on appearance and technical performance but also on aspects such as their professional careers, volunteer work and how well they’ve adapted to living in a new country.

Performer Julie Feng will be wearing a phoenix dress in the competition, with the mythical creature representing femininity in the Chinese culture as well as rebirth.

She said she’s enjoyed preparing for the contest.

“I like to try everything and this is a different experience,” said Feng. “I’ve liked it.”

Performer Lannia Pan MacAleer said since none of the woman are professional performers, they’ve also learned more about the traditional Chinese dress culture themselves.

“I don’t think any of us ever had a performance in this kind of dress doing these walks and moves. We are learning so it’s a great experience,” said Pan MacAleer, who noted the children involved are also looking forward to the event. “They’re very excited that they’re going to be on a professional stage.”

The event will also see a number of other performances, including a musical performance by Pang, who was the front for the Chinese rock group Yan Band while living in the country.

5 Chinese new year facts

1 - The festival date changes every year. This is because it follows the lunar calendar, based on the movement of the moon. Usually, it falls on a day between mid-January and mid-February. In 2018, Chinese New Year falls on February 16.
2 - It is also called Spring Festival. The festival usually falls after the solar term, beginning of spring (li chun), and is a festival in the spring, hence the name.

3 - Chinese New Year starts a new animal’s zodiac year. In China, each lunar cycle has 60 years and 12 years is regarded as a small cycle. Each of the 12 years is defined by an animal sign: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. This is the Year of the Dog.

4 - The celebration lasts for 15 days till Lantern Festival.

5 - One sixth of the world’s people celebrate it. It is not only celebrated in mainland China, but also in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and some other Asian countries.

Mitchell.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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