Last Sunday, they strutted their stuff for the media in a dress rehearsal.
"Our dancers worked diligently in three full day workshops over the holidays to perfect their dance and marching routines for this prestigious event," said Debbie French, director of the Folk Dance Troupe. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our children, and we are so proud of their dedication and hard work."
The current troupe of dancers range in age from 8 to high school students, and many are new to the troupe joining within the past few years. Also new to the troupe this past year is dance teacher and choreographer Ling Tang, an instructor at the China Institute and a teaching artist with the Washington Performing Arts Society.
During the three-day workshop over the holiday break, Ling choreographed a special parade routine. She also will be dancing and marching with the troupe in the parade.
The troupe will be dancing to a well-known Chinese folk tune, "The Dance of the Golden Snake." This music was chosen because Chinese New Year is twenty days after the Inaugural Parade when Chinese people all around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year, which is The Year of the Snake.
"When I was standing at the National Mall witnessing Mr. Obama's first Inauguration in 2009, I never expected four years later we would celebrate this historic moment together by dancing!" Tang said. "When we perform this routine, we will be expressing our best wishes and heartfelt congratulation to President Obama. At the same time, we will be showcasing the young diverse spirit of the U.S. and our splendid Asian cultural heritage."
The dance routine features traditional ribbons, fans and little lions. Since olden times ribbon dancing is symbolic of joy and happiness. The girls dancing with beautiful silk fans convey the festive spirit of Chinese people during joyous occasions. Our youngest girls are Little Lions dancing the lion dance which is a symbol of good omen.
The parade will follow the traditional route down Pennsylvania Avenue from 4th Street past the White House. President Obama and Vice President Biden, along with their families, will watch the parade from the reviewing stand across from Lafayette Park.
"Our young dancers are so excited to be in this parade," French said. "They cannot believe that they will be dancing for President Obama and Vice President Biden and will be representing Vice President Biden's home state of Delaware!"
While the dancers have been practicing, dedicated parents have been working on parade preparations. One parent sought advice from Paul Parets, who directed the Alexis I. du Pont High School Tiger Marching Band in three inaugural parades. Parets emphasized the importance of keeping dancers warm. He said it would be the troupe's biggest challenge. Parents have been scrambling to find warm boots, hats and gloves for the dancers.