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Lion Dance Medley

Ever seen different forms of lion dance traditional, contemporary, southern and northern dance forms all being performed at one place?  We headed to Gardens by the Bay on 13th of February 2016 to watch the first ever lion dance medley performed in Singapore. The show was scheduled at 5 pm.  Dancers were seen practicing their balancing acts.  Costumes and lion masks were hurried to the main venue near Supertree grove.

 The show started off with Cai Qing dance “Picking the Greens”.  Vegetable leaves are tied to a piece of string which also holds red envelope containing money.  The lion dances and stealthily comes forward to grab the leaves and the envelope.  The leaves are then chewed by the lion while the drummers play a rolling crescendo.  The lull is broken and the lion spits out the greens and throws fruits to the audience signifying that there will be abundance of wealth,fortune and prosperity in the coming year.  People grab to pick up those fruits and greens as part of the good luck.  They even touch the lions for good luck.

The lion dance is closely related to martial arts Kung Fu and the performers are generally the members of martial arts clubs.  This dance is performed on religious festivals and New Year similar to dragon dance and personifies strength, courage and wisdom in Chinese Culture.  Lion is considered as a good omen, an animal with dignity in Chinese culture.  Two dancers perform the dance.  One takes control over the head and other engages in the movement of body and tail.

There are mainly two types of lion dance -Northern and Southern Lion dance.  The performer holding the head of the lion is lifted by his partner to make the lion stand up. It is an absolute delight to watch the lion leap and jump over the stilts and balance on thin planks.  The lions roll their heads and sometimes give an expressive look with their eyes.  It is hard to miss their mischievous glint when they open their curved mouths and flutter their eyelids.

The best part was after the medley, we saw a ferocious dragon slowly entering the stage.  No, it was not the dance of dragons from game of thrones, but the famous dragon dance performed during Chinese festivals!  What more could we ask for !  Be it the year of monkey or bull or horse, you cannot end the finale of any celebration of Chinese festivals without inviting the dragons.  They hold a special place in our hearts.  A fierce looking dragon stormed the place gliding into the stage with ease.  One of its kind was enough to stand amidst the courageous lions.  Dragons are believed to bring good luck to the people and hence the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community.  The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate the dragon using poles at fixed intervals.  The dragon moves in a wavy, unruly pattern.  The dancers create patterns during this dance like whirlpool, looking for the pearl, encircling the pillar and so on.  It takes tremendous co-ordination for these dancers to  create spiral formations in the dance.

It was a 45 minutes show bursting with energy and vibrancy.  I tried to edit and summarize the highlights into 8 minutes in this video.  Lion Dance and Dragon Dance Medley all in one stage was truly a crowd pleasing performance.  My desire to see unique performances of different types of lion dance and dragon dance was fulfilled.  I beamed and jumped full of joy like a kid when I saw the dragon.  Normally you see only Cai Qing performed by the lions during any events in the malls or festivals. This is the performance which made me realize that it is more than just wiggling and shaking your head.  The way the lions moved with ease and jumped over the planks also showed that the dance not only required co-ordination with the partner, but also balancing at several levels gracefully. Although the lions and dragons did not roar, it was compensated by the deafening noise of drums and cymbals.  I thoroughly enjoyed this thunderous and unique performance !

Copyright ©2016, Lakshmi Nair . This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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