Interlude: Lion Dance

While staying with relatives in the Taipei area, I had the fortune of attending a college-level lion dance competition, and it was a pretty cool experience. For the uninitiated, the lion dance is the great Chinese cultural dance, representing…. something. I’m not sure. But in Chinatowns all around the world, there is certain to be a lion dance display for (Lunar) New Years. Basically, you’ve got two+ people in a lion costume, jumping around. It looks more impressive than it sounds.
Lion dance - dance 2

For this competition, a special stage was erected – tall platforms, rising up from the ground, which the lion dance performers would jump back and forth on. To be safe, there were also cushions below the platforms, poised to break any unfortunate falls. It actually looks quite daunting – I certainly would not choose to be jumping up there, especially while wearing silly pants and a lion costume.
Lion dance - stage

Each of the performances played out similarly. You’ve got a team of 7 – two to actually dance, and five to man the drums and provide music to dance to.
performing team support team

Once the music starts, the lucky pair in the lion costume jump onto the stage and perform in time with the music:
Lion dance - dance 1

Tricks score extra points – standing on each other’s shoulders so that the lion stands up, hanging off the edge, etc:

Unfortunately, lion dance is truly a risky sport – one wrong move, one wrong step, and you come tumbling down. This unlucky pair slipped, fell, and hit the floor at a gap in the cushions. An ambulance had to be called. Lion dance is serious business.
Lion dance - injury

On a brighter note, refreshments!
Lion dance - refreshments 1 Lion dance - refreshments 2

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