PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A dance company from New York’s Chinatown began the Chinese New Year today with a performance at First Philadelphia Charter School, on Tacony Street, in the Bridesburg section.

According to the Chinese zodiac, the year of 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, the fourth of 12 animal signs.

Dance China New York member Leslie Miller gave a brief language lesson to the elementary school students in the gym, including how to say “Happy New Year”: “Xin Nian Kuai Le!”

Dressed in authentic costumes, they performed court dances, including those based on the Chinese warrior as well as folk dances, displaying part martial arts, acrobatics and stylized theatrical movements.

“It’s kind of a celestial dance, very celebratory and popular around the Chinese New Year,” Miller says.

“Every single dance we have comes from China,” Miller told the children. “These are the sorts of dances they’ve been performing for 5,000 years.”

At the end of the program, a handful of students participated in a ribbon dance, attempting to make swirls, cork screws, curlicues and ripples in a long red ribbon.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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