Dragon Dance Vs Lion Dance
of reading - words
Dragon Dance and Lion Dance are easily confused for someone who does not have a keen eye.
These two folk traditions have more than 1000 years to their credit.
Although neither of the two creatures probably ever existed in ancient China, both are celebrated as deities, especially for their masterly powers.
These celebrations are observed especially during the Chinese New Year, but also during other important events.
1. Differences between Dragon and Lion Dance
- Number of artists : Lions are usually two inside a suit, while dragons need a multitude of individuals to handle their long coils.
- Lions are fun: Lions appear to the spectators as funny and curious creatures, who have a slight penchant for misdeeds, without being ferocious beasts to fear.
- The Dragons are imposing: Dragons, on the other hand, appear to be fast, powerful and mysterious.
- Fireworks: Unlike lions, dragons are sometimes decorated with fireworks that produce sparks.
- Popularity: Lion dances are a little more popular during celebrations. Perhaps because they require fewer places and interpreters.
- Ancient Traditions: Lion dances and dragon dances are both ancient Chinese traditions.
- Experienced Artists: These two dances require acrobatic skill and years of difficult training for the performers.
3. Chinese Lion Dance
A. Physical aspect
Lions are "shaggy", i. e. they do not lack hair and hair. They also have two large blinking eyes.
B. Interpretation of the lion dance
The lion dance ("wǔshī") is performed by only two dancers. One controls the front legs and head while the other controls the hind legs. Both artists are completely invisible to the crowd.
The Lions are accompanied by an orchestra that plays drums, gongs and cymbals.
When the lion stares at you with his big eyes, it is better to be generous and make a small donation, ideally in a red envelope, which you will slip into his mouth. Red envelopes are known as hong bao, in Mandarin. They symbolize luck and prosperity.
Like most Chinese New Year traditions, the goal is to bring fortune and prosperity to a business or neighbourhood for the coming year.
The lion dance has a lot to do with luck and the fight against evil spirits. It is interesting to mention that on the lions' heads there is a mirror, there is a mirror. He is put there because evil spirits are afraid of his reflections.
There are three styles of lion dancing:
- North Chinese,
- South Chinese,
Lion dancing also exists in other Asian countries. In Japan, it is called Shishi-mai, and in Korea it is called Saja-nori.
4. Chinese Dragon Dance
A. Physical aspect
Each dragon is made of wood, bamboo and fabric. The Dragon has a big head, a long body and an admirable tail.
The Dragon is an interesting combination of several animals:
His ears are those of a bull,
His eyes look like those of a rabbit,
His body has fish scales.
His legs have tiger claws,
Because of all these characteristics, dragons can move wherever they want.
The length of these dragons ranges from 25 meters to a record of about 5 kilometers long! An "average" dragon used in a dance is generally nearly 30 meters long.
B. Interpretation of the dragon dance
In the Dragon Dance ("wǔ lóng"), up to 50 people use sticks to hold the dragon. The Chinese Dragon dances are performed by a troop of acrobats who raise the dragon above their heads. The dragon's fluid and curved movements are carefully coordinated by posts.
The dragon's dances are often directed by an interpreter who controls a "pearl" - a sphere representing wisdom - that the dragon pursues.
The dragon is segmented and serpentine shaped.
During the dragon dances, the many artists who manipulate the dragon on poles that are visible to the public.
The Dragon is very important in the beliefs of the Chinese. It was once the symbol of the Chinese emperors, as seen in the article on the Chinese Dragons. It therefore symbolizes, among other things, power, wisdom and fertility.
Up to 15 artists can control the dragon. The odd numbers are a good omen.
In addition to the abundance of dragon symbols conveyed in this dance, it is also noted that the longer the Dragon is, the more prosperity and fortune will be attracted.
5. Are the Lion and Dragon Dances Kung Fu?
A. Time and talent required
Due to the skill, dexterity and endurance required for Chinese lion and dragon dances, artists are often kung fu students.
Although being a martial artist is certainly not a formal requirement, joining a dance troupe is an honor. This requires even more time and discipline from martial arts students, who already have a busy and regular training regime.
In addition, it takes enough time and talent to learn the dances well.
B. Expensive costumes
In addition, it should be noted that lion costumes are expensive and require maintenance efforts.
C. Influence of these dances in Kung Fu
The more lions and dragons a martial arts school can produce, the more influential it will be. Chinese lion dances are therefore a way for a kung fu school to do business!