What makes the Lion Dance different from the Dragon Dance?
Australia has a sizeable Chinese population meaning that most have witnessed a Chinese New Year’s celebration with its fireworks, food and dancing. One of the unique things about this celebration is the lion and Dragon Dances performed for the public. You’ll also see these dances performed on other important dates in the Chinese calendar. If you (like most people) think that the Dragon and Lion Dance are the same thing, you should know that they’re different. If you’d like to learn how to perform it, your knowledge begins here!
Both the Lion and Dragon Dance date back thousands of years to the Han Dynasty period (202BC-220AD) and take place in the street during festivals and special occasions to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck and entertain an audience. Both dances require dexterity and fitness, which is why martial arts in particular Kung Fu groups typically perform it.
The most significant difference between the two dances is that the Lion Dance is performed by two people only while a group of 9-15 dancers performs the Dragon Dance for a 18-25 metre-long dragon Dragon costumes are controlled with long poles while lion costumes are controlled from within the Lion’s head and tail. During a Dragon Dance, dancers are visible while during a Lion Dance both dancers are concealed.
The Lion Dance is often accompanied by gongs and cymbals and followed by a person dressed as a laughing Monk who’ll playfully tease the dancers to entertain the crowds. Often people will place red cash-filled envelopes in the lion’s mouth as a token of appreciation. Because ‘2’ is a lucky number for business, the Lion Dance is often performed at business launches for good luck. Dragon Dancers don’t receive money and perform by chasing a ball on a stick held by a performer walking in front of them.
There are many differences between the dances but what they have in common is that they’re fun to learn. To find out more about joining a Lion Dance duo or Dragon Dance troupe, contact FitLife’s Martial Arts for more information.