|LION DANCE HISTORY|
Lion Dancing is an important tradition in Asia, especially China. Usually the lion dance is performed during festive occasions like Chinese New Year, Grand opening of businesses and weddings. It is believed that loud noises scare away evil spirits so firecrackers and loud banging of the music are often used to scare away evil or bad karma. The Lion Dance brings good luck and happiness.
Lion Dancing has a very long history, which began as a result of the cultural interaction between China and West Asia. Persia began bilateral trade with China through the famous Silk Road nearly two thousand years ago. The ambassador from Persia sent animals, such as Lions, to the Emperor of China as a gift. This is when the proliferation of lions began in China. The Chinese people regard the Lion as a symbol of bravery and peace. They hoped that by using the bravery of the lion, they might chase away evil sprits. This is why they always build statues with lions outside their homes in order to prevent evil occurrences from happening.
The Lion Dance combines art, history and martial arts in an extraordinary performance art. Normally, the performers have some martial arts background, as the dance requires suppleness, flexibility, fitness, strength and balance. Every type of movement has a specific musical rhythm and the music mimics the move of the Lion. The drumbeat follows the Lion and the cymbals and gong players follow the drum. The whole dance requires precision and to be unison from each member of the team.
There are generally two types of Lions namely, the Northern and Southern Lion. The difference lies mainly in the movement and the appearance of the dress. The Northern type resembles a shaggy dog, whereas the Southern resembles a fierce cat.
Through the years, the Lion Dance has undergone many changes and developments. After nearly two thousand years of creative thinking and practice, the Lion Dance has become a genuine performance art that is spiritually fulfilling as well as expressing optimism, unity and bravery of people.