A lion dance, and other treasures, coming up
Winter is looking a whole lot brighter with events like the Greater Patchogue Foundation’s Asian Cultural Heritage Celebration Week in February. Details have been revealed.
Attorney Tom Keegan is overseeing the committee planning the lively offerings.
It’s the first of its kind for Patchogue, said Keegan.
“We have several Asian restaurants who are chamber restaurants as well as Best Meal,” he added.
Chinese New Year, the Year of the Pig, begins on Tuesday, Feb. 5. (The pig is the 12th of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac.) One of the celebration’s offerings is a timely film release, “Legend of the Demon Cat,” at Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center for Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 9 at 10:30 a.m.
“The Legend of the Demon Cat” is a Xianxia fantasy mystery film directed by the internationally celebrated filmmaker and Palme d’Or winner Chen Kaige, explained Plaza Cinema executive director Catherine Oberg. “Its U.S. theatrical release is timed to coincide with the Chinese New Year on Feb. 5,” she said. “I am very excited to be able to offer our community two screenings of this wonderful film in honor of Asian Cultural Heritage Week. The Plaza’s mission is to celebrate the power and magic of film as an art form and as a medium for multicultural exchange and social responsibility.”
An exquisite movie full of color and fable, the story is set over a thousand years ago during the imperial Tang Dynasty, considered by scholars to be a cosmopolitan period of exceptional cultural and literary flowering. A Chinese poet, Bai Letian (Xuan Huang), and a Japanese monk, Kukai (Shota Sometani), join forces to solve the curse of a demonic cat who has possessed a general’s wife (Kitty Zhang Yuqi) and wreaked havoc on the imperial court. Their investigation leads them to unravel the mystery behind the decades-old death of the legendary, beautiful concubine Yang Guifei (Sandrine Pinna), one of the iconic Four Beauties of ancient China.
As the film is a stunner, Oberg encouraged reserving tickets in advance.
In addition, a Polynesian choral group and an Asian karaoke night are also planned. But a super-fun spectacle will include a lion dance. Patchogue chamber member Jie Lin, owner of Hoshi Sushi and Hibachi, had one swerving through when he opened his restaurant in June 2012. Lin described the intricacies of this gorgeously extravagant and colorful custom.
“A lion dance is two people under the head and tail of the costume,” he explained. “It could be red or white. There are a lot of people, 18 to 20, following with drums.” Also cymbals and gongs. It is called on for restaurant openings and other events, including Chinese New Year.
The dance movements can be found in Chinese martial arts and you have to be in good shape to maneuver the lion. The mask alone can weigh 30 pounds and the swiveling and dancing requires flexibility, strength and balance.
The lion dance for Lin apparently brought him luck. He initially poured over $1 million into his restaurant, the first one in New Village. “I think I was the first one in Patchogue doing that kind of investment at that time,” he said, adding, “I’m happy to be here for six and a half years.”
Keegan said he was waiting to hear back from the lion dragon facilitator; Lin gave him the contact. It’s scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. at local participating businesses.
An artistic endeavor will also take place on Saturday, Feb. 9 or Sunday, Feb. 10 via an ice-carving contest. Dates, places and times to be announced.
The event’s schedule will be finalized just before the event occurs.
While the event is a first, Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy commented that the Greater Patchogue Foundation is always looking to expand cultural highlights.
“I know it’s noted that Asian cuisine is starting to populate Patchogue and it’s a good time to celebrate that,” he said.
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