Sino West Performing Arts, a dance and kung fu school in Goleta, is presenting a spectacular show in honor of Chinese New Year 2014, the year of the horse: Chinese New Year Extravaganza! The show will feature youth and adult students, professional instructors and performers, and special guest Shaolin kung fu monks performing traditional and folk Chinese dances, Shaolin kung fu and weaponry demonstrations, and a variety of Western dance forms as well. Beautiful Chinese costumes, music, and programs from China will take the stage at Elings Performing Arts Center, Dos Pueblos High School, on Saturday February 1, 2014. A lot of people do not know about nor have seen Chinese dance and kung fu before, therefore this Chinese New Year Extravaganza show presents the opportunity to let the public see and celebrate diversity in performing arts!
The word Sino means “Chinese” and is pronounced “sī-,nō.” The studio is called Sino West because they are proud to excel in both Chinese and Western styles of performing arts, and are the only studio in Santa Barbara County that has Chinese performing arts. They offer classes for kids and adults in acrobatics, ballet, Chinese dance, hip hop, contemporary, Zumba, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and kung fu; most of which will also be performed at the Chinese New Year Extravaganza. Sino West aims to be a welcoming, fun, diverse, and talented place for students of all ages, sizes, genders, nationalities, and abilities. Sino West is directed by Vicki Wang and Dragon Sun. Wang is a graduate of UCSB, and grew up training in ballet, Chinese dance, and gymnastics in the Silicon Valley of California. As a young child, Chinese dance helped her connect to her Chinese culture in a fun, physical, and beautiful way. Her love of dancing and her experience in business lead to the opening of Sino West Performing Arts in Goleta in September of 2011. Sun is a kung fu, acrobatics, and Chinese dance master from Harbin, China. He started martial arts at the age of six, and went on to a performing arts school, training day and night perfecting Chinese arts. Sun then joined a professional performing arts troupe at the age of seventeen, touring the world performing a combination of martial arts acrobatics, and Chinese culture. He recently became a disciple of Shi Yong Xin, the Abbott of Shaolin Temple, China. Wang and Sun met performing with the Chinese Performing Artists of America, in San Jose, CA. Since then they have been passionate about teaching, producing, and introducing Chinese arts to all. They emphasize that you do not have to be Chinese, Sino West has students of all ethnicities learning Chinese arts. Their students just love the art, the exercise, and the confidence dance and kung fu provide them.
Chinese dance is an ethnic dance style from China, utilizing Chinese music, costumes, and stories. Delving deeper, there are two kinds of Chinese dance: classical Chinese dance and ethnic minority group dance: both of which will be showcased at the Chinese New Year Extravaganza show. Classical Chinese dance is technical similar to ballet, but the style is more free flowing, expressive, flexible, and acrobatic. Classical Chinese dance draws upon its centuries of history; its unique moves evolved and combined movements taken from ancient paintings, nature, Chinese opera, kung fu, and usually tell a story or represent something of nature. Common classical Chinese dances use flowing silk fans, long water sleeves (which will be prevalent during the show), or other props to enhance the movements and imagery of the stories. Ethnic minority group dances are folk dances that represent each minority tribe’s dance style. There are 56 officially recognized ethic groups in China, each with their own very distinct tribal costumes, music, movements, and narrative. Most dances within a certain minority group have similar characteristics, and, are very different from the others. For example, during the Chinese New Year Extravaganza, there will be ethnic minority dances from XingJiang, Tibet, and Yunnan regions. Because XingJiang is located in the very West of China, the music for the dance “Why Are the Flowers So Red?” will be Chinese yet similar to music of the Middle Eastern area. You may also notice that the costumes for the dance “Ladies of Tibet” have long white sleeves, similar to the ceremonial scarves that Tibetans use to symbolize purity and compassion. A final example is the dance “Peacocks by the Lakeside,” an ethnic style dance from Yunnan about Peacocks, the only area in China where these majestic birds reside; therefore a lot of dances and moves of dances from the Yunnan tribes revolve around peacocks. One does not have to understand nor know all the different dances and regions of dances, they are just beautiful and entertaining to watch.
Chinese Kung Fu is a Chinese form of martial arts emphasizing peace within oneself and with one’s enemy. It is a more defensive style of martial arts, while also being a very acrobatic, strong, and flowing style. Shaolin kung fu is one of the earliest forms of Chinese martial arts, and is often considered the birth of all martial art styles. Similar to Chinese dance, there are centuries of history behind kung fu; it originates from the Shaolin Temple monks of Henan, China, where they developed kung fu for two reasons: 1) the monks were sometimes bullied because they are a passive and peaceful group and therefore needed a form of self defense, and 2) it is very cold in Henan, China and they needed to exercise and produce internal strength and heat. Within kung fu, or “wushu,” there are many branches: there are forms that mimic animals, some very acrobatic, some low-impact like Tai Chi, styles for show, styles for practical fighting, etc. There so many aspects of Chinese kung fu that makes it interesting, practical, beneficial, and a beautiful form of art. Kung fu was also made popular in Hollywood with masters such as Bruce Lee and Jet Li, and now also popular for children with Kung Fu Panda! In Sino West’s Chinese New Year Extravaganza, you will see a performance of the “Furious Five” animal styles: Tiger, Mantis, Monkey, Snake, and Crane. There will also be general kung fu and acrobatics skills demonstrations, and incredible weaponry exhibitions. Most amazingly, the audience of the show will also get to view a special treat, as Sino West has invited their associated guest performers: real kung fu warrior monks of Shaolin kung fu demonstrating their superior skills and training. Sino West is proud to present exciting kung fu to Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara is a wonderful, diverse area that is accepting and appreciative of its diversity, and Sino West loves that the community has been receptive and embracing of all forms of performing arts, including theirs. Wang and Sun recognize that Santa Barbara has a fantastic and inspiring Spanish dance culture, and they want to introduce and promote Chinese culture and arts as a part of Santa Barbara’s diverse society as well. Sino West plans to put on the best annual Chinese New Year celebration in town. With additional funds in the future, they hope to bring even more treasured Chinese performances, such as traditional lion dances, face changing, drumming, and live Chinese instrument ensembles.
Sino West invites everyone to come watch their Chinese New Year Extravaganza! It will be a beautiful and exciting show that Wang, Sun, and their students have been working very hard for and are very proud of. They wish everyone 新年快乐, “Happy New Year,” and hope you will support and attend the show!
The show will be on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at 7:30pm at Elings Performing Arts Center, Dos Pueblos High School. Tickets are $15 and will be on sale at Sino West studios, online at www.sinowestsb.com/chinesenewyear, or at the show.
Sino West Performing Arts contact info: 5718 Hollister Ave. #105, Goleta, CA 93117