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Performing in Chinese New Year celebrations

Friday 27 January 2023 8:50am

Tai Chi Ian Kalmakoff image 1
Ian Kalmakoff, in blue, performs with members of Dunedin Tai Chi club during previous Chinese New Year celebrations.

As those who celebrate usher in the Year of the Rabbit, one Otago staff member is taking a special role in events to mark the occasion.

University of Otago Group Leader for test and performance Ian Kalmakoff has been practising Tai Chi for about 30 years, and will take part in a demonstration at the city’s Chinese New Year celebrations at Lan Yuan, Dunedin Chinese Garden, on Saturday, 28 January.

Kalmakoff, who regularly also takes part in Tai Chi classes held in front of Lan Yuan, says he was initially interested in the martial arts aspect of Tai Chi, but over time came to appreciate the internal benefits, saying it calms his mind, and helps him “gain some perspective on life”.

Anyone can try Tai Chi, he says.

“There’s no real restrictions on age or ability, we all kind of do it to the best of our ability.”

“You’re competing against yourself, so it’s just about self-improvement, self-awareness.”

He says it’s a difficult thing to practise, but with regular practise, people will gain strength and improve their balance and flexibility.

“It’s harder than it looks. It’s done in a gentle way and looks slow and easy, but it takes strength and concentration.

“It’s quite deceptive.”

He is a qualified instructor but attends Dunedin Tai Chi’s classes as a student.

“On any morning we could probably have 12 to 15 students as well as the two teachers.”

Tai Chi Ian Kalmakoff image 2
Anyone can give Tai Chi ago, Ian says.

The club’s demonstration at the Chinese New Year celebrations is the fourth time the club has been a part of the event and this year will be demonstrating inside the garden instead of on a stage.

Kalmakoff says while Tai Chi is normally for the individual, in this instance, the club will be working together.

“We’ll be concentrating of getting the timing right, performing as a group.”

Kalmakoff says it’s a “real privilege” to be a part of the festivities.

“We are proud to display the passion and skill of our Tai Chi club.”

Often, following the demonstration, the club will see a few new people giving Tai Chi a go.

“We only ask for a $2 koha for the class, so there’s not a big commitment, people are free to come along and try it, see if they like it. If they don’t, there’s no pressure to remain.”

-Kōrero by internal communications advisor, Koren Allpress