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Thread: Chinese Lion Dance

  1. #196
    Weapons are often used in Lion dance demos. Nothing that I'm aware of as far as restrictions here.

  2. #197
    Most props used in the past for lion dancing had meaning.

    Lion dancing as a play always had stories or themes that go along with ideal the lion is trying to portray.

    There wouldnt be restrictions more just the meanings.

    Thru time things were added because of the enviroment.

    Like weapons for street fights.


    Back 50 years in Hong Kong, if you want to see a good fight,watch 2 lion groups meet in the Hong Kong steeets.

  3. #198
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    Year of the Horse

    Rick "Bucky" Wing wrote a piece in our NOV+DEC 2013, Kuo Yu Chang's Deadly Palm Strikes, and he has another one coming up very soon.

    Lunar New Year lion dancers in S.F. share trade secrets
    Nanette Asimov
    Updated 1:10 pm, Sunday, January 19, 2014


    Liliana Yee and sister Adriana Yee launch candy into the air while performing a lion dance at the Ortega branch library as the Year of the Horse nears. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle


    Liliana Yee (left) and her sister Adriana Yee (tail) remove their costume after performing a lion dance at the Ortega branch library in San Francisco. Photo: Deborah Svoboda, The Chronicle

    The question isn't as classic as "what do Scotsmen wear under the kilt?" But now that Lunar New Year is nearly upon us, it makes sense to ask: "What do dancers do inside the lion suit?"

    Make no mistake. The fiery-eyed gold and purple creature that dances to the left and feints to the right, roaring and bobbing throughout the season is, in fact, a lion.

    "It's not a dragon," said Rick Wing, instructor of lion dancers at the Jing Mo Athletic Association in San Francisco.

    And because it is a lion, not a long serpent, it has just two dancers within its glittery confines: a head and a tail.

    On Saturday, both head and tail showed up at the Ortega branch library in the city's Sunset District, where, to the urgent sound of drums and cymbals, the lion cleared the grounds of evil and conferred good luck as it has done for thousands of years.

    Library-goers bore witness in the sunshine. As drummers set the beat, the lion lifted and shook its vast purple head, batted its eyes and danced forward and back while wagging its stubby tail. It crouched and rose, aiming a silver dome on its head in all directions so that evil would see itself in the mirror and flee in fright.

    Suddenly, the lion collapsed and appeared to sleep. Children laughed, then stared as the lion woke and approached the crowd, blinking flirtatiously. A small boy proffered a head of lettuce. The lion took it in its jaws and bowed.

    After ripping the lettuce to shreds, the lion spewed the lucky leaves over the cheering crowd. Someone tossed it a bag of candy, which the lion caught in its mouth. Soon candy was flying, too, to the delight of the children who seemed to like it better than lettuce.

    Back and forth the lion danced - and then it was over. The lion's dazzling skin was thrown off to reveal sisters Liliana Yee, 23, the head, and Adriana Yee, 24, the tail. After lion-dancing together for 18 years, they make it look easy.

    It isn't.

    "It's hard to be the tail because you're in a squatting position the whole time," said Wing, spreading his legs and bending forward so that his back and head were parallel to the ground.

    "You can't lift your head because it would lift the cape and the lion's back wouldn't look flat," he said. Meanwhile, one hand has to move a stick that wags the tail.

    The person in front has to bob the 10-pound head up and down, while pulling a string to blink the eyes and move the ears. Another hand opens and closes the mouth. "Ideally, they would each have three hands," Wing laughed.

    And air conditioning. "You're in this little heat bubble," Adriana said.

    The sisters did share one lion-dancers' secret: They can switch places mid-dance if they get uncomfortable. To prove it, they moved deftly and suddenly were in opposite places. No one watching the lion would be the wiser.

    And outside the lion suit?

    Liliana teaches at a San Francisco preschool. Adriana works at a biotech company in Redwood City.

    And, she said, "We're best friends."
    Lunar New Year

    Lunar New Year, which begins Friday, heralds the Year of the Horse. Festivities culminate with the Chinese New Year Parade on Feb. 15 in San Francisco's Chinatown.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #199
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    TCEC 2016: Awaken the Lion

    Gene Ching
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  5. #200
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    Nice overview from SCMP

    Lion dancing: history, traditions and its special place in Hong Kong culture explained
    Once there was a lion dance troupe in every walled village in what became Hong Kong’s New Territories, and more than 100 still perform their dazzling routines; but as teens swap sport for studying, recruiting dancers gets harder



    PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 7:48am
    UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 8:56pm
    Laurie Chen

    A golden lion leaps from one high pole to another, shaking its bright, tasselled mane while the clash of drums and cymbals drowns out the gasps of onlookers at Pacific Place, an upmarket shopping mall in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district.

    The show is a frenzy of colour, sound and movement. The teenage performers, from Kwok’s Kung Fu and Dragon Lion Dance Team, demonstrate their agility and expert co-ordination at every turn, pulling off somersaults and backflips in mid-air. All the while, eyes, ears and mouths blink and twitch on the magnificent lion costumes, mimicking the mannerisms of real lions.

    The lion dance is a familiar sight during the recently ended Lunar New Year festivities in China, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world in which diaspora Chinese communities have settled. Along with the equally recognisable dragon dance, the lion dance is traditionally performed to bring good luck for the coming lunar year and scare away evil spirits – a custom stretching back more than 1,000 years.

    Hong Kong is home to more than 100 lion dance troupes, according to Kwok’s head coach, Andy Kwok Man-lung, who inherited the role from his father, Kwok Wing-cheong. Kwok Snr founded the troupe in 1969, and instilled a deep love of the traditional art form in his son, who started learning lion dancing as soon as he could walk.

    “When my mum was pregnant with me, she always went to see lion dance performances,” recalls Andy Kwok, 44. “I may have learned something from the womb.”


    Kwok Wing-cheong, founder of Kwok's Lion Dance Team, and son Andy Kwok, the team’s head coach, after a performance at Pacific Place in Admiralty. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    He became the team’s head coach in 2000, and now trains more than 100 youngsters in two styles of lion dancing, as well as other Chinese martial arts.

    Many people in southern China fled to Hong Kong during the second world war and the Cultural Revolution, allowing Hong Kong to play a special role in the development of lion dancing ANDY KWOK
    Hong Kong boasts the world record for the largest lion and dragon dance display, with a performance of 1,111 creatures in 2011. Lion dancing is such a recognised cultural tradition in the city that troupes are booked to perform at luxury boutique and car showroom openings.

    Lion dances are also staged on other occasions in the lunar calendar such as the Mid-Autumn Festival. A local festival dedicated to the art form – a hybrid of dance and martial arts – is held yearly on January 1.

    Nevertheless, Chinese New Year still tends to be the busiest period for Hong Kong’s many lion dance teams. Kwok’s troupe performs 20 to 30 times over the festival period alone, although their biggest show of the year takes place at the Tai Kok Tsui Temple Festival in West Kowloon every March.

    “We would perform with golden dragon dance teams, and have 18 lions in a procession and 20 golden dragons dancing on raised poles,” says Kwok. “The show is massive.”

    Lion dance troupes have existed in what is now Hong Kong since the late Qing dynasty (1644-1912), when every walled village in the New Territories would have their own group, according to lion dance master Lee Yun-fook, who founded the Yun Fook Tong Chinese Martial Arts Association in 1983.

    Lee, who is also vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese Martial Arts Lion and Dragon Dance Association, teaches lion dancing in schools and universities several times a week to supplement the running costs of his own lion dance school, which caters to adult learners and professional performers.

    “I normally find students at schools and in the community. If they are interested in lion dancing, disciplined and have a good character, I will allow them to come to my school for further lessons,” he says. A lot of his students are also enrolled on the recommendation of relatives.


    Lion and dragon dancers perform outside Hong Kong Cultural Centre on January 1 this year. Photo: David Wong

    Lions are not native to China, and some scholars believe that the animals were brought into the country along the ancient Silk Road from Central Asia. People soon began to mimic the magnificent creatures in ceremonial performances. Historical records of the lion dance predate the Tang dynasty (AD618-907), when it was performed for emperors.

    As the art form spread from the imperial court to the masses, variations of the dance developed in different parts of China thanks to the influence of local folk culture. The version most commonly performed today in Hong Kong and overseas Chinese communities is the southern lion dance, which originated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

    “Many people in southern China fled to Hong Kong during the second world war and the Cultural Revolution, allowing Hong Kong to play a special role in the development of lion dancing,” says Kwok.
    continued next post
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    Continued from previous post



    Lions in northern lion dance look more brave and fierce, while the facial expressions of southern lions are more delicate. Photo: Stanley Shin

    The city became a haven for lion dance troupes which were forced to disband in China when the Communist Party branded the art form feudal and backward. From Hong Kong the lion dance spread to other parts of the world through migration to Singapore, Europe, the United States and Canada.

    Lion dancing has not always been welcome in Hong Kong, however. “In the 1970s and 1980s, lion dancing was often perceived to be have triad connections,” says Kwok.

    Fierce rivalry between different troupes got so violent that the colonial British government banned the practice for a few years during that period, as performers often hid weapons in their lion costumes to attack rival teams.


    Kwok's Lion Dance Team performs at Pacific Place in Admiralty. While the southern Chinese style of lion dancing has traditionally been performed in Hong Kong, elements of the more acrobatic northern style, such as dancing on poles, have been incorporated in some troupes’ routines. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    In both the northern and southern dance styles, the lion costume is worn by two performers who dance in tandem. The southern style is more comic and mimics the natural behaviour of the lion, while the northern style is more acrobatic and influenced by martial arts.

    “Lions in northern lion dance look more brave and fierce, while the facial expressions of southern lions are more delicate,” says Kwok.

    He says that, in recent years, the southern style has evolved into two distinct forms: a more acrobatic, northern-influenced style, in which the lions perform tricks on high poles; and the traditional performance that involves cai qing, or “plucking the greens”.

    This auspicious ceremony sees the lion approach and “pluck” a green lettuce hung on a pole outside a shop front or doorway, in which is hidden a lucky red envelope containing money. The lion will then “spit” out the greens and keep the envelope as a reward.


    Spectators watch a Chinese New Year lion dance in Times Square, Hong Kong. Photo: James Wendlinger

    The lucky element comes from the symbolism of the word cai, which is a ****phone for the words meaning “pluck”, “vegetable” and “fortune” in Chinese.

    Nowadays, to encourage more young people to take up lion dancing, troupes in Hong Kong are trying to bring innovations to the art form.

    “On the one hand, we are working with some modern dance troupes and hip-hop dancers. On the other hand, we are developing LED-based choreography,” says Kwok, who shows a short video of a sleek, hip-hop-inspired performance with dancers clad in glow-in-the-dark UV costumes.

    In other words, they are trying to make ancient martial arts cool and modern. Kwok adds that the troupe has been experimenting by adding smoke effects and magic tricks.

    “We want to keep trying new things, while working hard to preserve tradition,” he says.

    The changes have been introduced in part because teenagers are more drawn to cramming classes than lion dance practice in their spare time because of the demands of Hong Kong’s high-pressure education system, according to Kwok.


    Traditional dragon and lion dancers at a dragon and lion eye-dotting ceremony at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    He sees a lot of interest in the activity among primary school students, who find the lions cute, but few stick with it. “Sport is not as popular with young people today as when I was young,” he says. “Fewer young people take up sport as a hobby, and even fewer take up lion and dragon dancing.”

    Lee agrees that it is hard to retain students once they face school or work pressures. “Most students have lost interest in it and have no time to do lion dancing again after they leave school and begin working,” he says.

    So what is the best way to preserve the art? “Although the Leisure and Cultural Services Department provides funding for associations to develop lion and dragon dances, their focus is on putting more resources into competitions,” says Kwok. “The government needs to do a lot more promotion, but I have not spotted any clear direction so far.”

    We want to keep trying new things, while working hard to preserve tradition ANDY KWOK
    He says the lack of space for lion and dragon dance groups to train is also a major problem – especially since the performances are noisy. “There is no government training ground for lion dances, so we can only train in factory buildings and open spaces in walled villages,” says Kwok.

    Ultimately, the promotion of lion dancing is in the hands not just of the young people who take part, but their parents too, Kwok says. However, most parents prefer to see their children studying in their spare time.

    As his troupe shows, a new generation of lion dancers is keeping the tradition alive, while also shaking off the shady reputation it had back when it was dominated by triad gangs.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Bored of the dance
    I think the southern lions look more fierce than the northern lions.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #202
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    aqualion

    This is weirdly impressive.

    Underwater lion dance in Malaysia before Chinese New Year


    Lion dances are traditionally performed to mark the Chinese New Year, but usually not underwater. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

    30 Jan 2019 05:44PM (Updated: 30 Jan 2019 05:50PM)

    KUALA LUMPUR: Divers performed an underwater lion dance in a Malaysian aquarium on Wednesday (Jan 30) as fish and sharks swam around them, putting a new twist on the traditional Chinese New Year performance.

    Two people put on the multi-coloured lion suit and performed in one of the tanks at Aquaria in Kuala Lumpur, as musicians played cymbals and drums outside.

    The lion lumbered around in front of a rock formation, while a shark and some colourful fish glided past.


    The divers performed a traditional lion dance inside an aquarium at the Aquaria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

    Aquarium manager Daryl Foong said it was no easy task performing a lion dance underwater.

    "One of the most important things for them is their buoyancy control and to still perform the movements underwater without knocking themselves off balance, hitting any of the exhibits or any of the animals," he said.

    Lion dances are traditionally performed in China and among ethnic Chinese communities all over the world to mark the Chinese New Year.

    In the traditional art form, two or more performers put on a colourful head and cloak, and try to mimic a lion's movements, accompanied by music - although not usually underwater.


    Chinese people believe that the lion dance can help ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

    Chinese people believe that the dance can help ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. Aquaria has put on the underwater dance several times over the past 10 years.

    About a quarter of Malaysia's 32 million inhabitants are ethnic Chinese, while the majority are Muslim Malays.

    Source: AFP/zl

    THREADS
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  8. #203
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    Who's lion dancing this year?

    Year of the Pig
    The lopsided fortunes of China’s ancient lion dance: thriving in the south but struggling in the north
    Public’s interest in the ancient art spiked when video of two performers working on routines went viral on social media
    A focus on family and heritage is driving its preservation in southern China
    PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2019, 11:18am
    UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2019, 10:26pm
    Phoebe Zhang
    https://twitter.com/dustguest



    When the sounds of a drum, cymbals and gongs pierce the air in Foshan, a city in southeast China, local children know the lion dancers are performing.

    Excitedly, they flood into the streets to catch a glimpse of the performers in the lion costume wagging the lion’s head and tail and climbing up and down poles as high as 20 metres (60 feet).

    Li Zhihao was one of these children some 20 years ago. For as long as he could remember, the lion dance had been a part of life in the city in Guangdong province.

    “Whenever people celebrated holidays, or when new businesses opened, lion dancing troupes were hired to perform on the streets,” said Li, a coach and performer with the Wong Fei-hung Lion Dance team in Foshan.


    Lion dances have long been part of Lunar New Year celebrations. Photo: Reuters

    But while performances of this traditional art can be viewed during Lunar New Year and other Chinese cultural and religious festivals, the exuberance it inspires in Foshan and other southern cities is not shared to the north. The tradition tends to be better preserved in southern China because of the region’s strong focus on family and heritage.

    Local governments and grass roots groups have launched efforts to revive the tradition in recent years.

    The public’s interest in the lion dance suddenly spiked last week, when a video of two performers practicing their routines went viral on Chinese social media.

    In the video, the person who would have played the lion’s hind legs – who, like his colleague, was not in costume – lifted up the person in front by the waist, to help him stand on a pole. The rear-end player then leapt up onto the pole – a graceful move that created the impression he was flying.

    Internet users posted that they were astounded at the dancers’ skills and began to talk about whether succeeding generations would carry on the tradition.

    It is unclear how the lion dance began, many years ago. Historians generally believe it is rooted in the late Han dynasty (206BC-AD220), when lions from Central Asia were brought to China’s emperor as gifts. By the Tang dynasty (618-907), lion dancing was regularly performed at the imperial court.

    Although the tradition goes back hundreds of years, it has evolved. The north’s version of the dance uses a mascot that resembles a real lion, an element based on those imperial court performances of years ago.

    In the south, including in Foshan, where the dance is believed to have originated, the lions are more cartoonish and have exaggerated facial and body expressions.

    Li Zhihao’s Wong Fei-hung troupe performs the dance three times a day in Foshan at the institution from which it takes its name – the Wong Fei-hung Lion Dance Martial Arts Museum, which celebrates the life and times of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) martial artist, doctor and folk hero, Wong Fei-hung.

    Li explained the mythology behind the dance’s emergence in southern China.


    A viral video showing two artists working on their lion dance routines has put the ancient art back in the spotlight. Photo: Weibo

    “Once, a vast epidemic took place in one of Foshan’s towns, affecting many villagers,” Li said. “Then all of a sudden, a magical beast like a unicorn appeared, driving the epidemic away and saved the people. Ever since, people have been making lion-like figures and using them in dances.”

    There is no doubt the lion dance tradition is flourishing in Foshan. The dancers perform during holidays, especially around Lunar New Year, and can be hired to perform at celebrations such as the grand openings of businesses.

    On a recent Saturday morning, Li and his teammates put on a performance at the Wong Fei-hung museum.

    Spectators – including families with both their eldest and youngest members in tow – circled the courtyard where the dance took place. People clapped and cheered as the lions moved around the performance area and interacted with the crowd.

    As the performers made the lions blink and shake their heads by manipulating poles that were positioned along the lions’ length, children shrieked with joy. The bolder ones reached out to stroke the fur of the yellow and gold beasts.


    Ditan Park in Beijing prepares its 34th Lunar New Year Temple Fair for the coming Year of Pig. Photo: Simon Song

    Some adults put 20-yuan bills (worth about US$3 each) into the lions’ mouths. The money was taken to a director standing in the centre of the circle who in turn gave the donor back a red sachet for good luck in the year to come.

    Then, as the drums suddenly started rolling, the show picked up its pace. A lion circled back to the centre and clambered up a pole.

    It looked around warily, as if it were frightened by the height, then stepped forward, hesitantly. The crowd gasped as the lion appeared to miss the pole and started to tumble to the ground.

    But it saved itself just in time, grabbing the pole with its front paws, while its hind legs dangled in mid-air. The crowd heartily applauded the entertaining show.

    Up north, the lion dance enjoys a less robust popularity. Some practitioners fear no one will continue the tradition, according to media reports.

    Wang Xin, who directs a local dance troupe in Xushui, a district in Hebei province, told China News Service that many people have decided against learning the lion dance because of the time it takes to practice and master the routines, the poor pay and the dangers in performing it.


    Red lanterns at Beijing’s Ditan Park bring a festive touch to Lunar New Year celebrations. Photo: Simon Song

    Although the Ministry of Culture named the northern-style lion dance a national cultural heritage item in 2006, just 70 people in the area know how to perform it and they are getting older, Wang was quoted.

    “If nobody learns this traditional art, we are about to go extinct,” he said.

    Finding people who want to keep the tradition going – and believe in its viability – is less of an issue in the south, especially in the Guangdong area.

    Li took up lion dancing in college, where it was classified as a major “traditional sport”. He never worried about finding a job.

    “Lion and dragon dances are in the performance industry, and that industry will never fall, as long as someone still wants to watch,” he said.

    His teams include young children who have been sent by area villages to learn the dance on weekends or during their winter break, so they can perform it at home over the holidays.


    A youngster has a timely moment with a pig statue ahead of the Year of Pig in Beijing’s Ditan Park. Photo: Simon Song

    Ge Guozheng, a physical education professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology and founder of the school’s dragon and lion dance club, said the differing issues reflect the lion dance’s “regional culture”.

    “More people in Guangdong immigrate abroad,” he said. “In a foreign environment, they needed a connection, a group to stay in to make sure they are not bullied.”

    The dragon dance is similar to lion dancing in that dancers manipulate a figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon.

    With the local government’s support, more emphasis has been placed in recent years on preserving dragon and lion dances in China, Ge said. He started the club in 2000 while he was in university, recruiting other students to learn the dances in their spare time, and compete in national contests.

    He said he hoped to see the art revived so that its popularity between the regions would once again be balanced.

    “There are hundreds of clubs around the country right now,” Ge said. “Universities, clubs, grass-roots organisations – we are all pouring our resources in together to develop this tradition in our own regions.”
    THREADS
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  9. #204
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    More CNY Lion Dance



    LUNAR NEW YEAR
    GOING, GOING, GONG: WHY IS LION DANCE DYING IN SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG, BUT ROARING BACK TO LIFE IN CHINA?
    The lion dance has a storied history of more than 1,000 years and is a regular feature of Lunar New Year celebrations by the Chinese diaspora
    But troupes are struggling to attract young talent, due in part to tough training regimes and parents who prioritise education over arts and sport
    BY DEWEY SIM
    10 FEB 2019



    With small, steady steps, Samuel Sim sauntered towards the stage in downtown Singapore, just as he had in his first lion dance competition two years ago. But unlike his previous attempts, in which he fell from the high poles multiple times, Sim was not prepared to fail.

    Clad in the same fur-lined pants illuminated by hundreds of gold sequins, Sim thrust himself into the air as his partner, Ang Junming, tugged tightly at his waist. With each beat of the drum and sound of the gong, the 19-year-old performers executed their well-rehearsed hoists, drawing a roar of appreciation from the home crowd.

    The young lion dancers were one of seven teams that took part in an annual international lion dance competition held at Kreta Ayer Square last month, in the city state’s bustling Chinatown.

    Sim and Ang are part of an increasingly rare group of people in Singapore, where a growing lack of interest for the traditional Chinese performance, especially among young people, has led to a recruitment crisis.


    Members of Singapore’s Nam Sieng Lion Dance Troupe cheer on Samuel Sim and Ang Junming, both 19, who were representing Singapore at the 12th International Lion Dance Festival. The duo were runners-up. Photo: Dewey Sim

    The number of troupes had fallen from 323 in 2016 to 265 by late last year, according to the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation.

    Sim, who trains at the Nam Sieng Dragon and Lion Dance Activity Centre, picked up lion dancing after watching a competition.

    But he said many of his peers were “not interested in traditional dances like these”.

    Calvin Loke, who coaches Nam Sieng’s 60-member troupe, said there were only five new members last year in what was the smallest enrolment since its formation in 1990.

    “We used to have about 20 to 30 new members every year in the past,” he said.

    A REGIONAL PROBLEM

    The lion dance has a storied history of more than 1,000 years, and is performed at auspicious occasions to usher in good fortune and wealth, and ward off evil spirits. It is a regular feature of Lunar New Year celebrations in Singapore – as well on the mainland, in Hong Kong, and regions where Chinese communities have settled – and is also performed at the launch of new businesses or at housewarming events.


    Lion dance performances in Singapore often draw a middle-aged crowd. Photo: Dewey Sim

    Lion dance groups like the Sheng Hong Lion Dance Athletes Troupe said they tend to be busiest during the Lunar New Year, with performances lined up back to back.

    Co-founder Threuno Goh said the troupe books an average of 60 performances over the two-week festive period every year. They can earn anywhere from S$688 (US$500) to S$2,888 for each show, depending on factors such as the number of performers and the difficulty of the stunts involved.

    Performances range from basic acts with only four dancers to those involving high poles and flags, Goh said. But he admitted he has found it a challenge to recruit youth. “Not a lot of young people like traditional things such as lion dance.”

    Singaporean troupes are not alone in their struggles to recruit young people. Declining interest is a regional phenomenon, said Philemon Loh, who is part of Chinatown Festivals, a government-backed body that organises events to promote Chinese culture in Singapore.

    “It is worrying to see how youths around the world are not participating as much in the traditional dance as they were in the past,” Loh said. “As more and more younger people turn away from the dance, it is going to be a challenge passing the culture down.”

    In Hong Kong, lion dance can be hard to promote because it is seen as an art form rather than a sport, said Ivan Wong, founder and coach of Team-A Sports Association. He added that Hongkongers’ focus on education was also a factor limiting its popularity.

    “Education and school [are] the priority for many parents here in Hong Kong, with sports and the arts taking a back seat,” Wong said. His association, once 160 members strong, now has just 80 members.


    Lion dance troupes in Singapore are holding annual competitions to engage and attract young dancers from as young as eight. Photo: Dewey Sim

    Joseph Low, secretary general of the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation, said the gruelling training regime causes many young people to lose interest because they see it as tedious and strenuous.

    Dancers train four days a week on average, and sometimes as often as six days a week if there is a competition, said 20-year-old lion dancer Jarrell Tock, whose father is the founder and coach of Yiwei Athletic Association.

    “Training can be extremely tiring, but if you treat you as a hobby, you will get used to it and will make time for it,” he said.

    Funding challenges also stymie attempts to grow troupes.

    Lau Ming Fung, founder of an eponymous lion dance association in Hong Kong, wants the government to do more to support it.

    “There is also a lack of venue and spaces for troupes to train at and troupes face a lot of restrictions,” Lau said.

    Low, of the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation, said its lion dance arm has not received funding from Sport Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth tasked with developing a national sports culture. Sport Singapore did not respond to questions on funding.

    In the absence of top-down support, the federation is trying to actively engage children from as young as eight through activities such as holding annual lion dance competitions for different age groups.

    The initial stages of these competitions are typically held in residential areas, Low said. “By doing so, we are bringing lion dance to the heartlands for residents to watch.”


    Divers perform an underwater Lion Dance to celebrate Lunar New Year in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: AP
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  10. #205
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    Continued from previous post

    C’MON KIDS

    China has managed to overcome the youth problem with a combination of government and community initiatives. Guo Qian Rong, who heads Nam Sieng’s China arm, said: “Compared to a decade ago, the lion dance scene in China is more vibrant, robust and professional now, with more troupes joining the trade.”

    Exposing children to lion dance and cultivating interest from a young age is key to promoting it, said Guo, who is based in Guangdong Province, where the lion dance originated.

    What the mainland has done, as part of a broader push to promote tradition to the masses, Guo said, is to incorporate lion dance as part of the curriculum in primary and secondary schools, with some kindergartens also introducing it to children through targeted activities.

    In Hong Kong, some troupes have introduced new, creative elements to modernise the ancient tradition.

    Tiffany Au Yeung, the founder of Ha Kwok Cheung Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe, said her troupe worked with Swarovski to put together a lion made of crystal.

    “We also tried to introduce different music genres such as hip-hop to the dance,” she said, adding that about half of the troupe’s 300 members were recruited in the past few years.

    In Singapore, the Wenyang Sports Association has incorporated sports such as football and other team-building activities as part of its training programme, while the Yiwei Athletic Association has planned occasional overseas welfare trips, chalet stays and bowling sessions.

    Other Singaporean troupes are bringing in non-Chinese dancers to preserve the tradition in the multicultural nation.

    WE CAN TRY AS HARD AS WE CAN TO ATTRACT YOUTHS, BUT IF THEY ARE NOT PASSIONATE ABOUT LION DANCE, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TIE THEM DOWN FOREVER
    Kiefer Teo, Yiwei Athletic Association
    The Teng Yang Lion Dance Troupe has attracted youths from the Indian community, while the Kuo Chuan Arts Cultural group has more than 40 members ranging from the ages of eight to 38, all of whom are Malay.

    “I started this troupe because I wanted my friends from the Malay community to learn something new and benefit ... even though the dance is a Chinese custom,” said Jamsairi Kamaruddin, Kuo Chuan’s founder.

    “During the Chinese New Year period, members of the troupe can also earn some extra cash and use the money purposefully such as paying off their school fees,” he said, adding that the troupe has more than 150 performances lined up during the two-week festive period this year.

    “We follow the traditional way of lion dance, but we try to be creative by adding in a bit of freestyle.”

    There is little promotion, and recruitment is mostly done through word of mouth.

    The troupe gets one or two new members every month, Jamsairi said. He isn’t bothered by concerns whether groups such as Kuo Chuan are seen to be wrestling for business with its traditional Chinese counterparts amid a dying trade.

    “Singapore places a strong emphasis on our multiracial society,” said Jamsairi. “The art of lion dancing is a passion to us.”

    For new recruits, sustaining the passion is the challenge, said veteran Singaporean lion dance coach Hiew Yun Cheong. Few can endure the hours of training. Many drop out within their first year.

    “Most of them join out of initial curiosity, which can die down very quickly,” he said.

    Kiefer Teo, an assistant leader at Yiwei Athletic Association, said: “We can try as hard as we can to attract youths, but if they are not passionate about lion dance, we will not be able to tie them down forever.”

    Sim, the 19-year-old performer, admits his passion for the tradition has been tested many times.

    He has sustained injuries such as a sprained ankle, a bruised tailbone, and a chipped tooth during training.

    But the teenager is now flying the Singapore flag high – his team came second in the lion dance competition, and he will head to Thailand later this year for another international competition.

    “I hope that by winning such competitions, it will inspire younger Singaporeans to take up lion dancing,” Sim said. “And hopefully we will be able to revive this dying tradition and proudly pass it on.” ■

    THREADS
    Year of the Pig 2019
    Chinese Lion Dance
    Gene Ching
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  11. #206
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    It's all about sacrifice

    INSPIRING
    The Sorrow and Sacrifices of Lion Dance Performers That Most People Don’t Know
    Published 6 days ago on February 15, 2019 By Ling Kwan


    Source: Facebook

    Chinese New Year wouldn’t be the same without the ear-deafening drumming and gong-playing that happen during the lion dance performances. However, did you know that behind those colourful lion dance costumes, there are a bunch of exhausted youngsters who don’t get enough recognition and appreciation?


    Source: The Star

    On 15 February, a netizen who’s a lion dance performer in Negeri Sembilan shared a heartfelt confession on Facebook about how their community has always been associated with many negative stereotypes. Here’s the brief translation of what he wrote.
    “Due to various reasons, many lion dance performers are often perceived negatively by the society and are often labelled as trouble-makers who smoke, fight or have tattoos. But what you don’t see is that these ‘trouble-makers’ are the ones who sacrificed their reunion time with their family on Chinese New Year to perform at your house.
    “They perform under the hot sun while sweating profusely. Their hands are blistered from moving the heavy lion head around; their legs are tired and sore from too much dancing. Some get injured by the firecrackers while others are left gasping for air after inhaling the smoke from the firecrackers.

    Source: Facebook

    “On the first day of CNY, when you are playing cards and eating cookies in the air-conditioned room, they are working under the hot sun with empty bellies. You scold them when they didn’t arrive on time, but do you know how little ang pau they get?
    “You can dress up in your new clothes and take a family portrait with your loved ones, but lion dance performers will miss this opportunity as they are going from house to house to perform. They won’t even have the chance to visit their friends and relatives.


    The netizen added that the only reason why these performers stay committed to this back-breaking role is that they want to preserve this precious culture that has been around for 1,000 years so that the next generation will have the chance to see it in real life. “If you come across any of these performers, please don’t be stingy. Buy them some drinks or cheer for them. Be more understanding when they’re running a little late because nobody likes to be shouted at during CNY,” he added.


    Source: Facebook

    These are the unsung heroes during CNY as they sacrifice their precious time with their family to give us a cheerful celebration. Honestly, without lion dance performances, the atmosphere will never be the same. Don’t you guys think so? #Respect!
    I wrote a little about my Lion Dancing sacrifices in Chinese New Year 2012 YEAR OF THE DRAGON: She Takes Her Fan and Throws it in the Lion's Den

    THREADS
    Year of the Pig 2019
    Chinese Lion Dance
    Gene Ching
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  12. #207

    Usdldf

    Help promote Dragon & Lion Dance Arts in America by becoming a member of the United States Dragon & Lion Dance Federation

    Mission Statement
    “To preserve and promote the arts of dragon and lion dance as a cultural tradition and sport throughout the United States and abroad”

    Vision
    “To create opportunities for all styles of dragon and lion dance teams to express and develop themselves, through friendly regional, national, and international training & exchanges, enrichment programs, and quality tournaments with the highest standards.”

    We are hosting the 2nd USDLDF National Dragon & Lion Dance Championships this June in Madison, WI. Come bring a team and compete, it is open to all styles and school in the USA. Or come and see some excitement! Last year it was held in Boston and we had 21 teams competing in the Traditional Lion Dance Category!!!

    https://usdldf.org/ for more info

    Please like and follow our facebook page as well.

    https://www.facebook.com/usdldf/
    Teo Chew Association: Unicorn Dragon and Lion Dance Team
    潮州會館 麒麟龍獅團
    http://www.facebook.com/TctLionDance

    United States Dragon & Lion Dance Federation
    usdldf.org

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    http://www.facebook.com/NoLagX

  13. #208
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    Women and lion dance

    The lion dancing women reinventing a Chinese tradition, showing it’s not just a ‘sport for boys’
    At a Southern California lion dancing troupe, women from diverse backgrounds are taking the lead and hoping many more will follow
    Challenges come from both inside and outside the costume, with audience members not unknown to say things like: ‘Little girl, what are you doing?’
    Charley Lanyon
    Published: 5:15am, 7 Oct, 2019


    Cassandra Liu (left) looks on during a lion dancing rehearsal by the Shaolin Entertainment Lion Dance Troupe, owned by Shaolin kung fu master Bruce Wen, in California, United States. Photo: Jon Delouz

    Growing up in Philadelphia, Cassandra Liu was entranced by the stories her parents told of the lion dances they watched when they were children in Taiwan. But the versions Liu saw at her school’s Chinese New Year celebrations left something to be desired: performed with good intentions but a limited budget, the “dancers” would parade around draped in a blanket with cardboard boxes over their heads.
    When she did finally see a proper lion dance, in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, it was “amazing”, she says. An athletic child, she was eager to join the team. But her mother’s response was a fast and inflexible: no.
    “She said it was too far and too dangerous,” Liu says. Her mother’s other big concern was that lion dancing was “a sport made for boys”.
    Today, the 26-year-old is living in Southern California. Not only is she a lion dancer, but she is also the captain of her troupe and is using her position to make sure that no aspiring lion dancer is ever discouraged like she was. She insists that no matter what your background or gender, you too can be a lion dancer – if you are willing to sweat.
    The proof of her vision is in her team: the Shaolin Entertainment Lion Dance Troupe, owned by Shaolin kung fu master Bruce Wen. The group is as diverse as Southern California itself: 22 dancers of many races and, unheard of for a lion dance team, half of the members are women.
    Yukari Koseki is one of them. She was born in Japan but works as a professional dancer in California, and started lion dancing in January this year. Then there’s Ariana Zhang, a Chinese Texan from Dallas who is both a primary schoolteacher and a stuntwoman; and Acela Peña Anaya, a pyrotechnical engineer whose parents immigrated to California from Mexico.


    Yukari Koseki, a professional dancer born in Japan, started lion dancing this year. Photo: Jon Delouz

    Lion dancing is a traditional Chinese art form in which participants wear a long lion costume, dance and perform acrobatic feats, most commonly during religious festivals and Chinese New Year.
    Professional lion dancers make it look easy, but it is intensely physical and extraordinarily difficult.
    “Lion dancing takes a lot more strength and endurance than any other physical activity I’ve ever participated in,” says Liu, who trained as an Olympic-level figure skater and a professional stuntwoman, and is no stranger to demanding athletics. Still, she says, nothing prepared her for the rigours of lion dancing.
    “In terms of strength and endurance, I would compare Chinese lion dancing to competitive cheer squad plus weightlifting. It’s very challenging because … you [have to] push through sometimes hour-long performances.”


    Troupe member Acela Peña Anaya, a pyrotechnical engineer whose parents moved to California from Mexico. Photo: Jon Delouz

    Unlike dragon dancing, lion dancing is performed by just two troupe members at a time: the head and the back. Both positions have their challenges.
    For the head, Liu says, “You’re lifting a heavy lion head, while operating the eyes, ears, and mouth.” And if you’re the back end? “You have to stay bent over the entire time and lift both the lion head and your partner multiple times throughout the performance.”
    Not one to be daunted by a physical challenge, Liu says she loves that “lion dancing is basically a daring, giant puppet performance”.
    As captain she wants to imbue the other dancers with her fearlessness. She is always pushing her dancers, especially the women, even if they are inexperienced, to take on both the head and back roles at performances.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #209
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    Continued from previous post


    Liu is determined that women can enjoy taking part in the traditional Chinese art form. Photo: Jon Delouz

    The challenges of lion dancing are hard enough from within the costume but, especially for women, challenges often come from the outside as well.
    “Most audiences are very surprised when some of our dancers lift up the lion head revealing who is inside,” Liu says. “We often hear, ‘Wow! It’s a girl in there! I can’t believe it.’
    “I’ve had male audience members call out to me saying ‘Little girl, what are you doing?’ ‘Are you really strong enough to lift that heavy lion head?’ ‘Do your parents know you’re doing this?’ ‘You better be careful with that lion head, girls get hurt!’” she says. “Some have even gone as far as to reach out and grab my arms to feel for muscle, saying ‘Wow, is there any muscle in there? Ha ha!’”


    Women in the Shaolin Entertainment Lion Dance Troupe rehearsing in California. Photo: Jon Delouz

    Anaya says she had not realised that women traditionally do not take part in lion dancing until she heard comments from audiences, such as: “There’s a girl under there.”
    “Our team leader explained [why they were surprised], and I felt grateful for the opportunity to do this, and that I had a responsibility to take this discipline seriously. Knowing that someone out there thinks that I shouldn’t perform because of my gender makes me feel like I need to work harder to earn my place here,” Anaya says.
    We’re exploring non-traditional lion dance routines, such as hip-hop choreography and possibly incorporating other circus arts into our performances
    Cassandra Liu
    As in all facets of a woman’s life, female lion dancers’ bodies are constantly under scrutiny.
    “I personally get a lot of critique and scepticism regarding my body and what I look like,” Zhang says.
    “People doubt my abilities when they haven’t even seen me do anything, simply based on a snap judgment of my physical appearance. Coaches and sifus [masters] I’ve met have told me that I’m too ‘big’ – though they don’t always use words as kind – to be a head, before they even see me perform with my tail partners. And similarly, because I’m not a guy, many have doubted that I’m able to perform as a tail, because they assume I’m not strong enough to lift people.
    “If folks don’t think I can be a head and they don’t think I can be a tail, they’re essentially saying I don’t have a place to be lion dancing. And that’s simply untrue.”


    Troupe members during a rehearsal. Photo: Jon Delouz


    Liu believes that women, especially in Asian cultures, are taught to be self-limiting and helpless. Photo: Jon Delouz

    For members of Liu’s team, being a woman is not a handicap but a source of strength and empowerment. The troupe’s women dancers are referred to as “lionesses”. They are encouraged to take on roles as intensive as those of the men, and are pushed just as hard in their gruelling training regimens.
    The team has become a beacon for inclusivity in the sport and a bastion of progressive values in what is by definition an extremely traditional art form. Liu could not be more proud, but she isn’t stopping there.
    “I would like … our team to become even more progressive and open-minded in comparison to past, more traditional teams, welcoming team members of all genders, races and backgrounds, and tearing down that hierarchy where only the so-called best dancers get to perform,” she says.
    The women also change the way the dance is performed by making it more modern and more representative of their own life experiences.
    “We’re exploring non-traditional lion dance routines, such as hip-hop choreography and possibly incorporating other circus arts into our performances,” Liu says.
    Ultimately, she dreams of taking her team to compete at the United States Dragon and Lion Dancing Federation’s annual competition, where her non-traditional team can show the whole country what they can do, and use the national stage to inspire more aspiring lion dancers, especially young girls around the world.


    Lion dancers from the troupe experimenting with new moves. Photo: Jon Delouz

    “Not only are our dancers physically strong, but they’re also mentally strong enough to persevere and lead a team of so many people to success.”
    From cultural prop to circus freak: the first Chinese woman in US
    So are they afraid of the blowback they could get from traditionalists as their team finds greater success? Zhang, for one, is not.
    “I have a place in this community and on my team,” she says proudly, “and I will not let anyone tell me otherwise.”
    Not to detract too much from this spotlight, but we always had women on our lion dance team, as long as I can remember and I think I started lion dancing back in the early 80s, long before Ms. Liu was born.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  15. #210
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    13th International Lion Dance Competition in Singapore's Chinatown

    Friday, January 17, 2020
    Highlights of 13th International Lion Dance Competition in Singapore's Chinatown
    Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-12 09:55:22|Editor: Xiaoxia
    SINGAPORE-LION DANCE COMPETITION-CHINESE NEW YEAR






    Lion dance performers compete in the 13th International Lion Dance Competition as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations held in Singapore's Chinatown, on Jan. 11, 2020. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)
    At least they could tell us who won...

    THREADS
    Chinese Lion Dance
    2020 Year of the Rat
    Gene Ching
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