Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala Welcomes the Year of the Pig

17-year-old Zihe Tian stands at her friend’s side as she carefully draws a swoop of eyeliner across her eyelid. They laugh, twirl their umbrellas, and work on perfecting their “Jasmine Blossoms” dance backstage as they wait their turn to perform for a packed house at Marshall Middle School’s auditorium. “This is an artistic way of not forgetting your cultural roots and your country,” said Tian of the classical Chinese dance she and others from Yanli Dance Academy will bring to the stage.

On the other side of the opening curtain, a standing-room-only crowd is entertained by comedians, choirs, musicians, dancers and more to welcome in the “Year of the Pig” and celebrate the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala. “For people that live here in Pittsburgh who are just so far away from home, there is no other big celebration in Pittsburgh for us, so we’re kind of like missing the spirit,” said Xiao Lu, the executive director for the gala. The first day of the Chinese New Year falls this year on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, according to the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. See some of the scenes from the previous Saturday’s celebration here:

In Focus Video

From left to right, Friends4Dance dancers Shiyi Shen of Bloomfield, Deliu Zhou of Gibsonia, Rose Chen of Monroeville, and Jingyi Li of Shadyside, put on makeup together as they prepare backstage for the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Wexford. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
People wait for the curtain to rise on the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Wexford. The Chinese New Year celebrates the Lunar Calendar, with a celebration that welcomes the “Year of the Pig” this year. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
Friends4Dance dancers Xing Chen, left, of Monroeville, works on her makeup beside Lisa Wang, top, of South Pointe, as they prepare backstage to perform for the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Wexford. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
From left to right, Yanli Dance Academy dancers Sarah Cao, 15, of Franklin Park, Gina Wang, 17, of Fox Chapel, Jessica Yu, 16, of Ross Township, Zihe Tian, 17, of East Liberty, and Catherine Cao, 17, of Franklin Park, share a laugh together as they rehearse their “Jasmine Blossoms” dance for the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Wexford. “This is an artistic way of not forgetting your cultural roots and your country,” said Tian. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
The Smith family applauds the start of the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Marshall. At front is Dustin Smith holding Luna, 2, and beside them is Nan Smith holding Athena, 3, all of Gibsonia. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
From left to right, Yanli Dance Academy dancers Emily Li, 13, Greentree, Jessica Yu, 16, Ross Township, Katie Liu, 16, Robinson Township, Katherine Hu, 12, Franklin Park, perform a classical Chinese dance called “Jasmine Blossoms” in the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Marshall. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
Sunny Chen, right, of Sewickley, practices her dance before heading onstage to perform “Flying Kites” with the Elegant Breeze Dance Ensemble in the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Marshall. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
Jason Li, left, 11, and his schoolmate Joshua Chen, 10, both of Murraysville, volunteer to make balloon animals in celebration of the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Marshall. The boys attend Pittsburgh East Chinese School, which brought crafts and other activities for children. Their favorite part of the New Year? Receiving gifts and money. Li also likes staying up until midnight to countdown the big day. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
Members of the Haihua Youth Chamber Orchestra take the stage to play music in the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Wexford. The group has represented the U.S. in several International Children’s Festivals in Europe and Asia. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
The Yanli Dance Academy performs a classical Chinese dance called “Jasmine Blossoms” in the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Marshall. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
Members of the Haihua Youth Chamber Orchestra Betsy Zheng, left, 8, of Upper Saint Clair, and Yuehan Ren, 8, of Wexford, prepare before the curtain rises for their performance in the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Wexford. The group has represented the U.S. in several International Children’s Festivals in Europe and Asia. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)
Yanli Dance Academy dancer Rachel Tian, 16, of Bennington Woods, lifts her umbrella around her fellow dancers as they perform a classical Chinese dance called “Jasmine Blossoms” in the Greater Pittsburgh Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Marshall Middle School in Marshall. (Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)