Fifteen days of celebration begin next week with the start of the Chinese New Year, ringing in the Year of the Monkey. Not the typical drunken debauchery that most in the United States would recognize, it is a celebration of the old and the new, honoring the deities and ancestors, and the hope of a new year.
In honor of this centuries old cultural tradition, the Nelson-Atkins Museum hosted their 8th Annual festival for the Chinese New Year a week in advance. This free event featured performances, activities, and food celebrating the Chinese culture.
We arrived later than we intended, but still had an opportunity to see much of the offerings, though did not sample any of the food. We only caught a bit of the Lily Zhang Li Taylor Dance Academy performance, before feeling compelled to move, lest we miss anything. The little ones did provide quite a bit of amusement though, dancing in brightly colored costumes to traditional music to relatively full house.
Making our way through the museum, we paused for a little while to take in the Chinese Music Ensemble, who played an excellent set on traditional authentic Chinese instruments in the Bloch Building. We also enjoyed a solo Guzheng performance by Wen-Hau You in the Chinese Temple. As had been the case with the main performance arena, the turnout for the festival appeared better than had been anticipated.
We missed the acrobatics and Tai Chi demonstration, and probably a lot of other things, due to the turnout. We were barely able to pass through the area hosting a performance by the The Drum Roller & Chinese School of Greater Kansas City, as they hammered away on massive traditional drums to the delight of hundreds of spectators.
We walked through most of the other activities too, since many were equally crowded. We did find one small quiet spot briefly, in the Spencer Art Reference Library and enjoyed a few readings. It was not a bad first experience though, and a chance to get acquainted with this annual tradition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. We definitely will be making a return trip, and scheduling a much earlier arrival.