For the past five years US Wushu Academy has played a key role in local community celebrations of the Chinese New Year, focusing in particular on two types of performances.
One is the Lakeforest Mall festivities organized by the Chinese Community Center, in which the Academy is always proud to participate--this performance is done for fun, does not require intense rehearsals, and students enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Moreover, the event brings the school considerable publicity.
The other major New Year event is the Strathmore Music Center gala performance, which is more formal-with VIPs in attendance and a rich cultural and artistic program--and requires more rehearsals. Performing groups are invited to audition before the organizers, who then make the final selection of the participants.
In 2008, 33 organizations applied to perform, but only 17 were scheduled for the show. The board charged with selecting the participating groups first started the process nine years ago, approaching the event as if it were a talent show. Over the years, however, standards were gradually refined and the reputation of the organizers grew in importance. With the attendance of officials and dignitaries at the performances, the event gained added prestige and the numbers in both participants and audience experienced significant growth.
From the very start of US Wushu Academy's participation in the Strathmore gala, the organizers have asked the school to present a new creation each year-- last year it was the Taiji group, and this year it was the performance of Men in Black. Coach Pei underscores that Chinese New Year performances in the mall are good for the school and he is proud of his students, whose participation brings considerable credit to the school.
At the same time, performing on stage--as is the case with the Strathmore, or the 2005 Kennedy Center event-showcases the school's high standards and quality in a more classic setting where an audience has come to a theater to enjoy a regular performance. Coach Pei anticipates that in the coming years, the Academy will continue to be asked to play a key role in both events.