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May 10, 2022 By Ariana Jenkins

Lions Dance in the New Year

On Tuesday, February 1 (Lunar New Year), we had the honor of receiving about a 20-minute lion dancing show from the members of the LionDanceME company, who originally started as a single high school club and has since expanded adding programs in schools all around San Francisco.

Legend has it that lion dancing originated in China during the Tang Dynasty (618–906 A.D.) when an emperor was troubled by a nightmare which ended after he was saved by a rare and strange beast, the lion. As an important part of New Year’s celebrations, lion dancing has long been associated with southern Chinese systems of kung-fu and dates to the days of Qing dynasty (1644–1912) when revolutionary martial artists used the lion dance as a secret means of communication. Today the lion dance is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional events. For today’s student of kung-fu, the lion dance offers vigorous cardiovascular exercise as well as stance and weight training all rolled up in one cultural package. Lion dancing brings good luck, fortune, strength, stability, and prosperity while the dragon represents power, boldness, and excellence. The tassels that were given out in a traditional red bag from the Wellness team represent good luck and prosperity. Now you can hang them up somewhere in your home all year for the benefits!

During the performance we had two lions dancing to the music and leading one lion to conquer the “tall bridge” (bench prop) as the dancers executed high flying acrobatics. The other lion ended up drunken from wine (golden jug prop), bringing a good laugh to everyone in the audience. Then, at the end, both lions “ate” something that they soon “spit out” to reveal a beautiful scroll. At the end of the show, the lions came around to greet and take pictures with individual audience members. Despite the windy weather, the residents and staff both enjoyed their time at the event. We were very grateful for the time the dancers took to come all the way to Fairfield from San Francisco. A big thank you to the LionDanceME high schoolers who helped us usher in the Year of the Tiger.

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