Caixin
Jan 18, 2022 06:10 PM
CHINA

Photo Essay: Lion Dancers Strive to Keep Traditions Alive as Gigs Dry Up

Students train to become lion dancers in January at the Tengxian vocational secondary school in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin
Students train to become lion dancers in January at the Tengxian vocational secondary school in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

A new animated comedy about three teenage lion dancers sheds light on one of China’s most well-known folk arts — the lion dance — which is often performed on festive occasions as an omen of good luck and fortune.

Performers in a lion’s costume mimic the movements of the lion in time to a vigorous gong and drum beat. Two dancers play the “lion,” one of whom carries the head and the other the tail.

Performers in a lion’s costume mimic the movements of the big cat in time to a vigorous gong and drum beat. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin 

Passed down from generation to generation, this folk art is facing the challenge of inheritance. Many lion dance performers who learned since childhood have given up, finding it hard to fit the exercise in with their regular lives. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

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