Lion Dance

Lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance performed during special occassions, especially around Chinese New Year. The lion is thought to bring prosperity, good luck, and peace.

There are two dancers within a lion. One handles the head, which is made of light but strong materials such as bamboo and paper mache. The other performer is in the tail, which can display emotion by shaking the tail at the end of the lion.

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The head and the tail wear matching pants.

Performers can also include a Buddha, which can tease the lion with a fan. The drummer is the most important position within the troupe, as the drummer sets the beat of a performance and drives it. The drummer is accompanied by cymbals and a gong.

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Instrument line during a performance

In a performance, there can be chang such as lettuce or oranges, which the lion can “stalk.” At the end of a performance, the lion can toss the chang towards the audience, effectively throwing good luck at them.

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One of our troupe members holding a lettuce chang and a white pearl

In a typical performance by our dance troupe, we open with a long bow, where the lion “bows” to the audience. During the performance, there are three seven stars, with chang stalking in between each seven star. A seven star is a choreographed dance segment that represents a turning point in the emotions of the performance.

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At the end of a seven star, the lions end up in a crane position. 

After stalking the chang (usually lettuce) three times, the lions “eat” the chang and spit it back out to the audience. The green lettuce represents luck and money, so the audience is showered by this good fortune by the lion. Afterwards, the lions end with another long bow, thanking the audience for watching.

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Throwing the lettuce.