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Martinez Library to host Leung’s White Crane lion dancers

CNYMonkey-cmykBy DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A performance of the world famous Leung’s White Crane lion dancers will mark the Martinez Library’s celebration of the Chinese New Year next Tuesday evening.

The free festivities to kick off the Year of the Monkey begin at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the library located at 740 Court Street. The dance performance will happen in the downstairs program room, and then planned activities for crafts and food will follow upstairs in the main level of the library.

Lion dancing is an ancient Chinese tradition which brings luck and happiness.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Friends of the Martinez Library, Leung’s White Crane lion dancers will help bring these ancient blessings to the Martinez community.

In the 40 years since its inception, Leung’s White Crane (www.sfwhitecrane.com) has promoted and participated in shows, celebrations, films, competitions, and charity work all over North America and Asia.

Librarian Ruth Boyer, who is Chinese-American, said the library has been celebrating the Lunar New Year festivities since 2009.

“We are always looking for ways to bring culture, education and new ideas to the community,’’ she said.

In the case of the Chinese New Year celebrations, Boyer was thinking it may be an event that people cannot get over to San Francisco to experience.

“Why [not] bring it to the community here so they don’t have to drive over the bridge?’’ she said.

The talented and accomplished troupe of dancers was established in Oakland in 1971 by three brothers. Their goal was to create a youth club which would not only preserve the traditions of this ancient art, but would also promote brotherhood and respect. As time progressed, they settled into the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The troupe’s most phenomenal exhibition can be viewed annually at the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco.

Visitors are reminded to bring their cameras for a photo opportunity with the lion after the show. Then walk upstairs to the main library floor for some special crafts and activities from Martinez Parks and Recreation.

Boyer said the New Year craft activities will be a non-traditional take on traditional crafts that date back thousands of years.

“As with any celebrations, the traditions change a little or are adapted over time,’’ she said.

Complementing the craft activities will be a presentation about treats in Chinese culture that also mark the new year. Boyer said there will be tasting opportunities.

Boyer cited oranges as one kind of snack whose color symbolizes prosperity.

“We are bringing things into the library to teach kids and adults something that might be a little different,’’ Boyer said.

The Martinez Library is open Mondays 12-8 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays 12-5 p.m., Fridays 12-5 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about library programs, please call the Martinez Library at (925) 646-9900.

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