Have you seen lions roaming the streets? It happens at this time of year. The lions dance to the beat of a drum. They are not real lions. They are dancers in lion costumes.
The lions are part of a tradition that is centuries old. It started in China. It is meant to bring good luck in the coming year. In many Asian countries, the new year is celebrated with the new moon in January or February. In 2022, the holiday begins on February 1.
Usually, a lion is made up of two dancers. One dancer controls the head. The other controls the tail.
“I think of it as a sport,” says Anthony Huang, age 16. He is a member of the New York Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club. Anthony performs as the lion’s head. It can weigh 20 pounds. Lion dancing is important to Anthony. “This tradition really represents me,” he says.
In the past, lion dancing was performed mostly by men. But it is more inclusive today. LionDanceMe is a lion dancing group. It is in San Francisco, California. There are boys and girls on its team. They dance together.
Ananda Tang-Lee is 17. She says anyone can take up lion dancing. “You have to have confidence that you can do it,” she says.
Lion dancing will likely continue to evolve . But a team’s sense of community will never change. “We call it a family,” Ananda says. “It’s really great, because we always have each other’s backs.”
There are different types of lion dances. One of them is called jong. In this one, lion dancers do tricks on poles more than eight feet tall. The dancers use their acrobatic skills. They also use martial-arts skills.