Revered lion dance brings good luck

This year, Inglemoor’s annual Chinese Party was held in the cafeteria, a week after Chinese New Year, on the evening of Jan. 31. It was the first time a lion dance team performed in the celebration.

The+Vovinam+University+of+Washington+Lion+Dance+Team+performs+at+Inglemoor%E2%80%99s+annual+Chinese+Party+on+Jan.+31+in%0Athe+cafeteria.+Inglemoor%E2%80%99s+team+was+unable+to+perform+due+to+the+snow+days.+Photo+by+Sofia+Leotta
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Revered lion dance brings good luck

The Vovinam University of Washington Lion Dance Team performs at Inglemoor’s annual Chinese Party on Jan. 31 in
the cafeteria. Inglemoor’s team was unable to perform due to the snow days. Photo by Sofia Leotta

The Vovinam University of Washington Lion Dance Team performs at Inglemoor’s annual Chinese Party on Jan. 31 in the cafeteria. Inglemoor’s team was unable to perform due to the snow days. Photo by Sofia Leotta

Sofia Leotta

The Vovinam University of Washington Lion Dance Team performs at Inglemoor’s annual Chinese Party on Jan. 31 in the cafeteria. Inglemoor’s team was unable to perform due to the snow days. Photo by Sofia Leotta

Sofia Leotta

Sofia Leotta

The Vovinam University of Washington Lion Dance Team performs at Inglemoor’s annual Chinese Party on Jan. 31 in the cafeteria. Inglemoor’s team was unable to perform due to the snow days. Photo by Sofia Leotta

Ishika Kaushik, Reporter

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The Lion Dance is a major part of Chinese culture, especially during Chinese New Year. In 618 A.D., an emperor had dreamed he had been saved by a lion from an evil monster. Since then,  the dance has become a key part of Chinese events and businesses.

This year, Inglemoor’s annual Chinese Party was held in the cafeteria, a week after Chinese New Year, on the evening of Jan. 31. It was the first time a lion dance team performed in the celebration.

There are many components to the dance. Various instruments are involved, which bring the dance to life, and the lion head is heavy, requiring both dancers in the rear and front to hold strong stances for long stretches of time.

“The lion dance is not just a matter of taking the puppet, moving it around, and calling it a dance. The whole point of the dance is telling a story. The noise brings energy to the dance,” sophomore and instructor Thomas Tran said.

“The firecrackers add to the level of noise that the drum, gong and cymbals produce, and that noise is said to scare off evil spirits,” Tran said.

The lion is a symbol of good luck because it saved the emperor in the dream.

“Its ultimate goal is to give out prosperity. In our culture, people believe that a lion is a lucky sight. Overall, this is a tradition that has wrapped everything: sports, culture, language and martial arts — into one,” Tran said.

“I always wanted lion dance teams to perform, but they’re very expensive, and we couldn’t afford them,” Chinese teacher Li Haining said.

This year was different, however, as Haining met students who had experience with this dance form.

“This year, I have a new student, Thomas Tran, and another student, Alex Lam, who were in lion dance teams outside school,” Haining said.

Tran was in a team called LQ Lion Dance, and initiated the process of creating a team, eventually becoming the team’s instructor

“I am a student of LQ Lion Dance. The IHS team started off when Ms. Haining asked me if I could start a lion dance team at school, and I accepted,” Tran said.

Since the team was formed, the journey has been challenging mainly due to funding. However, Haining said it has proven to be a very exciting opportunity for students.

“I applied for district funding after talking to Dr. Michelle Reid but didn’t get it, so I started a campaign for us. The campaign will end on Jan. 31 and is requesting people for donations to buy the equipment,” Haining said.

For now, Tran is lending the team the lion costume and cymbals.

Despite these issues, Haining said the team was still able to stay on schedule and prepare the dance before Chinese New Year.

“Thomas is the coach, so he taught the team the dance. There are many other students involved as well since the team needs both dancers and musicians to play the drums, gong, and cymbals. This is a great opportunity as you usually see boys as line dancers, but our team shows that girls can perform, too,” Haining said.

The team said their goal is to continue to perform throughout the year.

“It’s not just Chinese New Year parties but other celebrations like sports and assemblies, Haining said. This idea should be expanded throughout the district as well, not just our school.”