The Lion dance is an important tradition in the Chinese Culture. Usually the dance is part of festivities like Chinese New Year, the openings of restaurants and weddings. The Lion and musicians chase away evil spirits and bring good luck, long life, and prosperity to all present! The Lion is the emblem of valor, courage, energy and wisdom.
The lion dance combines art, history and kung fu moves. Normally the performers are kung fu practitioners. Every kind of move has a specific musical rhythm. The music follows the moves of the lion: the drum follows the lion, the cymbals and the gong follow the drum player.
HISTORY: A long time ago a strange creature appeared in China and horrified and ate men and animals. The fast and fierce creature was called ‘nien’ (or ‘nian’), which sounds like the Chinese word for ‘year’. Neither the fox nor the tiger could fight the ‘nien’ effectively and in despair the people asked the lion for help. The lion shook his mane, rushed towards the creature and wounded it. The nien hurried away with the tail between its legs. But it announced to return for taking revenge.
A year later the nien did return. This time the lion couldn’t help the people. He was too busy with guarding the emperor’s gate. So the villagers decided to do the job themselves. Out of bamboo and cloth they produced an image of the lion. Two men crawled inside it and approached the nien. The ‘lion’ pranced and roared and the monster fled away again. This is the reason why on the eve of the Chinese New Year, lions always dance. They are frightening evil away for yet another year.
United East Athletic Association’s objective is to continue this cultural tradition. We feel that knowledge and understanding about the tradition of lion dance is an important element in appreciating the Asian arts and tradition.
If you would like to hire the lion dance team for special occasions, please contact lion dance coordinator Rich Fang at [email protected] with details.