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A show for the ages: The Annual Lunar New Year Celebration at EF Academy New York

120 students have been working together since September to put on a show for the ages – the annual Lunar New Year celebration at EF Academy New York. On Monday February 8th, the show came to fruition after the hard work of rehearsals, meetings, organization and coordination.

IB Y2 student Chieh-Yu Chang became involved with the Lunar New Year production in Grade 10, participating as a dancer for the Taiwan performance and as the leader representative from Taiwan last year. This year, Chieh-Yu stepped up as the Director of the Lunar New Year show, working with advisor Dr. Huong Tran.

Chieh-Yu (Ashley) began planning at the beginning of the school year. She first worked to recruit the countries to participate in the performance: Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, & Vietnam. Each country prepares their own performance and rehearses throughout the year. Toward the end of the fall semester, there is a dress rehearsal where Ms. Chang offers feedback on all of the performances and scripts the show with the leaders from each country.

The show also included a performance from students who were not from Asian countries for the first time. Gniim Bikassam from Togo was one of the leaders of the group, which danced to a popular modern song and showed off their many moves.

The week before the final show, there is a full week of rehearsal to insure the show is ready for the grand performance. As Director, Chieh-Yu was the liaison between the students and Dr. Tran. She and her Co-Director Linh Nguyen worked with each of the performances to ensure they were ready to go for the big day. They held meetings each week and prepared everything for the occasion, including the decorations, makeup, cultural paintings, backstage help, and of course the performances. The stage crew works behind the scenes to insure everything runs smoothly. Cultural paintings adorned the walls of the EF Academy Theatre, as students created many works of art to celebrate the occasion.

Following the show, students celebrated with a special Lunar New Year dinner featuring food from the celebrating countries. Students who were not a part of the show helped with food preparation and set up to ensure the feast was ready after the performance. The food committee ordered food from several area restaurants and met with many of the restaurants to ensure everything was ready to go for the big celebration. Following the first of two performances, an EF Academy favorite – bubble tea – was served.

IB Y2 student Chanipon Watcharawasunthara performed as a dancer for Thailand. The presentation began with a dance called “Rum Mae Bhod Lek” from the 18th century. Performers wore traditional Ratchapratan uniforms. It then progressed in time to a country song, “Poo Chai Nai Fun” or “A guy in my dream”. Finally, the dance concluded with two modern songs including an exciting performance of “Who Runs The World” by Beyonce and “Too Much So Much Very Much” a modern pop song from Thailand. The students from Thailand spent two months preparing for their performance, including rehearsal each day. “We wanted to make it perfect and worked hard to come up with the dance moves. During the performance I was excited and nervous, but we ended up very happy with performance.”

Chani added, “We made lots of friends, screamed for other countries, felt proud of ourselves to show our fellow students the tradition of Thailand. The hard work pays off. I feel very touched because my Thai teacher cried watching the show.”

IB Y2 student Linh Nguyen was in charge of decoration and rehearsal. As a Director, she focused on the theme and offered suggestions on what to change about the performances. The Vietnam performance included traditional costumes and a Lotus Flower Dance. The whole group then sang a “Happy New Year” song.

Headmaster Dr. Brian Mahoney, who introduced the performance with an overview of the Year of the Monkey, was thrilled with the Lunar New Year performance. Dr. Mahoney commented, “The Lunar New Year production is one of the oldest and best traditions we have at EF Academy New York. It is one of my favorite times of the year as it epitomizes what EF Academy is all about.”

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