Waco (FOX 44) — Lunar New Year – The Year of the Rabbit — is on Sunday — and it’s celebrated in many Asian countries — kicking off the first new moon on the lunar calendar.

There is a group in Waco that shows the importance of paying homage to the past while looking towards a fresh start each and every day — one dance step at a time.

It has been said that art imitates life.

And in the Asian cultures, there are stories told that celebrate a rich history through dance.

The rituals from everyday life — long since forgotten — are the inspirations for many of Asia’s dances — including those from the Philippines.

“I find dance so important as a Filipino. It’s a celebration of movement. Our movements are almost so melodic. So we find a little joys in life for movements, and therefore turn it into a dance,” says Joni Navarra Kulkarni, a member of a Filipino-American dance troupe here in Waco.

She says dancing these traditions folk dances is an ode to her heritage.

“It is from habits that have been done and you want to pass through, through time. It’s just a story that’s told of the farmers or the people that live in the provinces and the hard work that they go through throughout the day. “

“Most of these dances are like celebration like Harvest dances,” adds Domilyn Madraso, another dancer and the president of the Fil-Am of Waco, a social-cultural group.

Though a lot of these customs have long since been retired, she feels these folk dances are still important to remember.

“We wanted primarily for our children to learn, you know, the tradition, how Filipinos came about how we evolved from primarily agricultural farming communities,” says Domilyn.

And their attire is also a tribute to the past. 

“These are like traditional costumes in the in the past like before our days,” she says. 

“They really wore these [dresses] in the fields.”

Joni is also the co-owner of East Market and Goods — the first Asian grocery store in Waco — which is hosting a big celebration in Woodway on Sunday, January 22nd.

“Being a transplant coming to Waco and being able to bring this kind of huge celebration…It’s wonderful. And we want to showcase this and we’re calling this Waco’s “2023 Lunar New Year Festival.”

If you’d like to see the Fil-Am of Waco perform their folk dances, they will be at the festival where they will be performing on-stage with other life performances. The festival will be from 11 to 5 P.M.