BATON ROUGE - The LSU Golden Girls and Tiger Girls dance groups will travel to Hong Kong in February to take part in the 2011 Chinese New Year celebration as part of the region's Cathay Pacific International New Year Night Parade on Thursday, Feb. 3.
"The Tiger Band and Golden Girls have always served as a gateway to the university," said LSU Tiger Band Director Roy King, who also oversees the Golden Girls. "We are proud to continue to serve in this capacity as we represent the United States and the great state of Louisiana. We are fortunate to have a dance group as part of the Tiger Band that operates on the highest level and are honored to serve as ambassadors at the Hong Kong New Year celebration. This is an internationally televised event which holds much significance to our friends across the globe. I hope everyone in Louisiana joins me in celebrating this great honor with the dancers of our university who work so hard to spread spirit in the name of LSU."
"It is such an honor to be invited on this trip and to be selected from so many other incredible groups," said LSU Spirit Coordinator Pauline Zernott, who directs the Tiger Girls. "We were selected out of the top four groups, including the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders, The University of Minnesota dance team, a very prestigious group of dancers on the UDA Nationals competition scene and a group of NFL mascots."
The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade, or ICNYP, is the most anticipated and best-loved event of the entire New Year celebrations. Produced by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the parade has been selected by the Lonely Planet Bluelist as one of the world's most fascinating attractions and celebrations. Travel + Leisure Magazine also selected the parade as one of the six great Chinese New Year parties in the world. Because of its popularity, broadcast and print media organizations from 14 countries carried the parade in 2010, including CNN. The parade will usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
Pamela Matassa, communications director and community outreach coordinator for the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, said that the LSU dance teams, along with an Ohio-based choir, are the only two performing groups from the U.S. that have been invited to take part in Hong Kong's festivities this year.
Zernott said the selection process began in late October, when she was contacted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
"We went through several conversations of what type of group the board was looking for to perform in the Chinese New Year's celebration," she said. "I knew they were interested in a group of about 30 dancers. Without a doubt, I felt joining the two most prestigious dance groups on campus would help us to secure a spot."
Zernott said she learned of the teams' selection as she and the Tiger Girls were leaving for a men's basketball game in Shreveport.
"Needless to say, I was very excited," she said.
This is the 16th annual parade and the 13th consecutive year of sponsorship by Cathay Pacific Airways. This stunning spectacle showcases a combination of international and Chinese elements featuring 13 illuminated floats, dragon and lion dancers, clowns, marching bands and an all-star cast of performing teams from around the world. In addition to the LSU contingent and the Ohio choir, the range of international participants includes themed floats and performers from Thailand; an all-female Mikoshi group from Japan; a variety of dancers and performers from China, Japan, Korea, Peru, Taiwan and the United Kingdom; and a majorette group from the Czech Republic. They will follow a route that snakes around Tsim Sha Tsui, transforming the Victoria harbor front area into a giant street party venue. Roving performers and interactive games will add fun and enhance the festivities prior to the start of the parade. A huge street party along the parade route will serve as a warm-up to the parade.
According to a proposed itinerary provided by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the LSU contingent - 35 performers and six assistants, along with King and Zernott - will leave the U.S. on Monday, Jan. 31, and arrive in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Feb. 1. They will rehearse their parade performance on Wednesday, Feb. 2, before performing in the parade on Thursday, Feb. 3. They will also hold three 20-minute performances at designated venues from Friday, Feb. 4, through Saturday, Feb. 5. The contingent will return to Louisiana Sunday, Feb. 6.
"I think the most exciting thing about the trip is that the dancers have the privilege of representing LSU and the state of Louisiana on an international level," Zernott said. "I am also very excited that the girls will experience a culture that many of them would never have the opportunity to experience, if it were not for this invitation."
The Tiger Girls and Golden Girls are LSU's premiere dance lines. These two talented groups are chosen by auditions, which take place on the LSU campus each spring. The Tiger Girls and Golden Girls have distinguished themselves through nationally and internationally televised performances for millions of spectators. Their performances have received critical acclaim from many. Whether it's an electric athletic event in Tiger Stadium or the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, pride in a rich past and dedication to a legacy of excellence are hallmarks of these prestigious dance lines.
To learn more about Hong Kong's Chinese New Year celebration, visit www.discoverhongkong.com/chinesenewyear/eng/index.jsp.
For more information on the LSU Golden Girls, visit www.bands.lsu.edu/golden_girls.
For more information on the LSU Tiger Girls, click here.