VANCOUVER, Feb. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The longest Chinese-style Dragon in North America will kick off New Year at 3 p.m. PST Sunday Feb. 14 at a major celebration site for the 2010 Winter Olympics, in the heart of Vancouver's huge Chinese community.
Members of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society will carry the 100-metre (330 foot) dragon through an expected throng of spectators at the O-Zone site in suburban Richmond, a city that has replaced downtown's Chinatown as the centre of the region's large Chinese population. The dragon and a 40-metre (150-foot) companion will perform the rarely seen and spectacular Double Dragon Dance.
Tradition says that performing the Dragon Dance on Chinese New Year ensures favorable weather for the rest of the year - and organizers hope that means snow instead of rain for the Winter Olympics.
A crew of 70 people, with alternates, will handle the two dragons along with drummers, Lion Dancers and more than 100 practitioners of Taoist Tai Chi(TM) internal arts of health demonstrating their 108-movement set.
The ceremony is especially significant in Richmond, which has the largest proportion of foreign-born persons of any municipality in Canada. In the 2006 census, more than 57 % of its residents were born outside Canada. Chinese Canadians alone accounted for over 43 % of the population. Their numbers reach 80 % in central Richmond, close to the O-Zone. Signage in some major shopping malls near the O-Zone is almost entirely in Chinese.
The dragon figure is known in Chinese culture as the master of weather - a major concern for supporters and participants in the Vancouver 2010 Games. The dragon also symbolizes prosperity, power, dignity, fertility and harmony.
Choreography includes the dragon's pursuit of a "pearl", carried aloft by a dancer and representing wisdom.
Situated on an island in the Fraser River delta, Richmond is an especially appropriate setting for the Dragon Dance. In Chinese culture, a river-mouth city that is prosperous and developed is often called a "pearl", while the river symbolizes the dragon in pursuit of its wisdom.
As dragons pursue pearls, new immigrants from China -- who often call themselves "Descendants of the Dragon" as a sign of ethnic identity -- find Richmond an attractive place in which to live.
The International Taoist Tai Chi Society is a collection of affiliated charitable or not-for-profit organizations in 26 countries with 40,000-plus members worldwide. Its headquarters are near Orangeville, ON. In the United States, the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA oversees classes in about 30 states from its national centre in Tallahassee, FL. The Society promotes well-being in the community through the practice of the Taoist Tai Chi (TM) internal arts of health. The International Society was founded in 1970 by Master Moy Lin-shin.
Note: Still photos are currently available at the Society's FTP site ftp://ftp2.taoist.org User name: olympicftp Password: %a3e4x27
Video will be made available to media on by 10pm PST, Sunday Feb. 14 (6am UTC Monday, Feb. 15)
/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/
SOURCE Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada
For further information: For further information: about the Society: visit www.taoist.org or the US site at http://usa.taoist.org; Or contact, in Vancouver: Jim Nicholson, (cell) 604-765-6609; Chester Grant (cell) 778-668-3421; In the USA: Virginia Amos, (cell) 972-998-6519; Pegoty Lopez (cell) 727-515-6621.