One of the main purposes of the lion dance is to scare off evil and bring good luck. Particularly in southern style lions, this symbolism is exhibited in ornaments such as the mirror on the lion’s forehead, used to scare evil spirits with their reflection.
To those that have never seen a lion dance lion before, they might imagine images of scary and fierce looking creatures. Although this is certainly true with some lion styles and colors schemes, a growing trend in playful and cute looking lions have dominated the lion dance performance scene due to their crowd pleasing appearance. These bright colored, furry lions are particularly adored by kids. What kid wouldn’t love a huge, colorful, soft fur, animated lion? They look like giant sized stuff animals that move!
I think performing for an audience with kids is a lot more fun because you can see just how much kids enjoy watching the lion. Their eyes open wide in amazement at the mystical looking lion and laughter ensues when the lion does playful movements. Kids have an easier ability to just see the lion as a lion, instead of two people underneath a costume. Therefore, if performed well, kids will forget about the people underneath… as the lion comes to life.
As part of the World Brooklyn exhibit at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, kids get an inside-the-head look at what it’s like to be a lion dancer.
Here are some fun photos taken by my cousin at the exhibit.
The excitement of kids when they see a lion dance brings a lot of satisfaction to lion dancers alike. You’re certainly there to lift their spirits and bring a smile to their faces. Their slight hesitation and fascination, when they try to feed a red envelope into the lion’s mouth is an experience that they will not forget. This moment, from within the lion’s head, is equally memorable. 🙂