Tanya Somanader | 2013pic.org
In 2009, dance teacher Ling Tang stood with the crowd in D.C., watching a procession of performers from across the country celebrate the first inauguration of President Obama and Vice President Biden. Now, four years later, Ling and the Chinese American Community Folk Dance Troupe will finally get a chance to be part of the inaugural parade.
In 1992, a group of parents in Hockessin, Delaware formed the troupe as a way to share traditional Chinese dance and culture with their daughters. Twenty years later, 22 young dancers aged 8 to 18 have mastered the art of their ancestors and are bringing their talents to parades around the world. “We danced in London’s 2012 New Year’s Parade and we were the first Chinese dance group ever to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” says Debbie French, Director of the Folk Dance Troupe. But little can compare to performing before President Obama, she says. “We’re in complete awe. The girls will remember this forever.”
Ling—who started choreographing the troupe’s routines last year—and the dancers have been putting in extra hours to prepare for the big day. The troupe includes fan dancers, little lion dancers (an omen of good luck), and ribbon dancers who symbolize joy and happiness. They’ve held three full-day workshops over the holiday and will run a complete dress rehearsal next week.
The girls have chosen to march to “Dance of the Golden Snake,” a traditional Chinese song that is fitting for 2013. “Twenty days after the inauguration is the Chinese New Year, and this year is the year of the snake.” said Debbie. “We’re absolutely thrilled to offer our congratulations and celebrate with Barack Obama in the new year.”
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