Hong De Kung Fu

Lion Dance

Hong De Lion Dance Association
508 Prior Avenue N.
St. Paul, Mn 55104

Lion Dancing in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Hong De Lion Dance Association (HDLDA) has a goal of bringing traditional Lion Dance to Minnesota. We are a non-profit organization that wants to bring Chinese culture to Minnesota youth in an exciting way. HDLDA wants to capture the attention of its audience and encourage further learning about the cultures around us. We are open to everyone, all backgrounds and all ages.

The lion dance (sometimes along with the dragon dance) is usually performed at important or grand occasions by Chinese communities. These include: traditional Chinese cultural and religious festivals, business opening events, birthday celebrations, to welcome an honored guest, and wedding ceremonies.

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Interested in having HDLDA perform at your event?

Contact Sifu Adrian or reserve your dance with a $50 deposit. Note: Lion Dance events must be booked at least 3 weeks in advance.

About the Lion Dance

Lion dance (simplified Chinese: 舞狮; traditional Chinese: 舞獅; pinyin: wǔshī) is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture, in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume. The lion dance is often mistakenly referred to as dragon dance. An easy way to tell the difference is that a lion is operated by two people, while a dragon needs many people. Also, in a lion dance, the performers’ faces are covered, since they are inside the lion. In a dragon dance, the performers can be seen since the dragon is held upon poles. Basic lion dance fundamental movements can be found in most Chinese martial arts.

The story goes that a monk had a dream in which there were many sorrows and evils plaguing the land. The monk prayed and asked the gods how he could prevent these evils from occurring. The gods told him that a lion would protect them and fight back the evils. The Chinese people had never seen a lion before, but had heard stories that the lion was the king of all the other animals, so the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals he could think of and made a lion.

If you look closely at any lion, you can see a red sash tied on its horn. It is told that the lion was disrespectful to the Jade Emperor. This caused the Jade Emperor to get very angry, as a punishment he chopped off his horn (The source of his life) and the lion died. The Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) felt bad for him and tied his horn back on with a red sash with golden leaves and the lion came back to life.

The Chinese Southern dance is symbolic. It is usually performed as a ceremony to scare away evil spirits and to summon luck and fortune. The Chinese southern lion exhibits a wide variety of color and has a distinctive head with large eyes (of an eagle), a mirror on the forehead (demons are scared of their own reflection), and a single horn at center of the head (the horn of a unicorn). Lion dance costumes are considered to be spiritually protective when used as they are traditionally blessed before usage.

Lion Dance is performed accompanied by the music of beating of drums, cymbals, and gongs instruments synchronize to the lion dance movements and actions. The music has become an art in its own right, and there are even competitions just for the musicians.

In the old days, the lettuce was hung 15 to 20 feet above ground and only a well-trained martial artist could reach the money while dancing with a heavy lion head. These events became a public challenge. A large sum of money was rewarded, and the audience expected a good show. If lions from multiple martial arts schools approached the lettuce at the same time, the lions are supposed to fight to decide a winner. The lions had to fight with “lion” moves instead of street fighting styles. The audience would judge the quality of the martial art schools according to how the lions fought. Since the schools’ reputations were at stake, the fights were usually fierce. The winning lion would use creative methods and martial art skills to reach the high-hanging reward. Some lions may dance on bamboo stilts and some may climb human pyramids formed by fellow students of the school. The performers and the schools would gain praise and respect on top of the large monetary reward when they did well. Now performances to attain the red envelope are not as rigorous but lion dance troupes still have the onus of making a good show or face the unhappy client.

During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of “cai ching” (採青), literally means “plucking the greens”, a quest by the ‘lion’ to pluck the auspicious green normally ‘vegetables’ like lettuce which in Chinese called ‘cái'()that sound like ‘cái'()(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a “Red Envelope” containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The “lion” will dance and approach the “green” and “red envelope” like a curious cat, to “eat the green” and “spit” it out or leave it in an arrangement, like an auspicious character but keep the “red envelope”. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the “red envelope”.

Different types of vegetables, fruits, foods with auspicious and good symbolic meanings; for instance pineapples, pomelos, bananas, oranges, sugar cane shoots, coconuts, beer, or even crabs can be used to be the “greens” () to be “plucked” to give different challenges to the lion dance performers. But the difficulties of the challenge should comes with the bigger the rewards in the “red envelope” given.

Hong De Choy Li Fut, Inc.
508 Prior Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104

651-329-7844

sifu@hongdekungfu.com

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