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Children experience China through dancing

BY ALLIE HULCHER/ REPORTER

Children danced, read and counted their way into the Chinese culture Tuesday night.

The event was held at the Madison Public Library and featured a fan dance performance by children from the Huntsville Chinese Village.

Mandy Pinyan, the youth services librarian, helped organize the event and said it enforced the children’s summer reading theme: One World, Many Stories.

Children sat in wonder as they watched the dancers clad in traditional Chinese glide their silky fans in the air as they danced in unison.  Then all the children gathered around to listen to Wanda Shaw read a story called Ruby’s Wish.

Shaw is “the person who does everything” at the Huntsville Chinese Village, which offers dance and language classes.  After reading to the children she taught them words in Chinese and how to count to ten.  The room filled with the sound of young voices learning a foreign language.

“It’s important to broaden children’s thinking and their view of the world,” Shaw said.

The children folded construction paper into fans and added decorative details with crayons.  Then they, too, were ready to practice dancing to Chinese music.

Pinyan said the event was a success.  She was pleased with the display that the Huntsville Chinese Village brought in – books, dolls and fans covered a table so that the children could see examples of Chinese culture.

Pinyan felt the kids enjoyed learning from the girls who knew the fan dance.

“It’s less intimidating than a grown up just counting off the rhythm,” Pinyan said.  “We really like our performances to encourage participation so the kids can learn by doing.”

Vickie Bohy’s 12-year-old daughter was one of the ten girls who danced the fan dance.  Bohy adopted her from China when she was just one year old.  She watched as her daughter, a “natural teacher” showed other children how to twirl their fans.

“I want her to be proud of the fact that she is an American citizen, but I can’t change the fact that she is Chinese,” Bohy said.  “I think she should know about the traditions of her country…because that helps her become more aware of who she is as a person.”

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