Folk Dance – China

Folk Dance

The Lion Dance – Chinese

Sky told the legend behind the Lion Dance: “Legend has it, a long time ago a [Chinese] village was being disturbed by a demon, and so the villagers asked a dragon to help them get rid of it. But the dragon was too lazy, so they asked two lions and the lions scared the demon away. Since then, at all types of gatherings and celebrations, people dress up as lions and dance to loud music to scare away demons and brig good luck.”

He said the performers of the Lion Dance wear a lion costume, which consists of a big lion head and usually a decorated blanket so two people can impersonate the movement of the lion’s legs and body. People of all ages can participate in the dance. Sky also said that the dance has started to evolve into a competitive sport with all sorts of new, difficult tricks.

Sky said that, visually, the dance is all about imitating a lion. The dancers will act out different stages, such as walking, jumping, eating, tricks, sleeping, and dancing. Sky himself has done the dance a few times and was taught by his Kung Fu instructor a few years ago. He performed it at a wedding and said it was “pretty cool.”

I find it amazing that one vague incident in China’s extensive past has resulted in such an enormous, extravagant tradition. This attests to the great respect and honor with which Chinese people regard their past and ancestors.

Also, the fact that a once traditional folk dance like the Lion Dance is becoming mainstream competitive sport is a common theme seen today. As with all evolved art forms like this, the meaning behind the tradition will eventually fade and the dance will just be performed for the dance itself.


Director Tsui Hark. “Once Upon a Time in China.” 1991.