Are there such things as practice lions, that are made for practicing lion dancing? How does a lion become a “practice” lion? I’ve been wondering about this for some time.
As you can see from our training videos, we usually just practice a bunch of stacking. There are just a few videos where we actually practice with with Ryan’s lion. This is because there’s not really a practice lion to use. So we’re lucky when Ryan has the time and is able to transport his lion to practice.
I ask Ryan about his all the time. He says that basically there are new lions, which are performance lions. These are new and beautiful and people don’t like to get them beaten up by practicing with them. Then, as these performance lions get worn down over the course of their performance lives, they gain sentimental value with the owner/dancer. If something breaks, it is fixed. Over time, the lion may even be put through a restoration process if things get bad. Because they have sentimental value and memories attached to them, they are not sold when they are old, get worn down, or after restoration. They are retired and stashed away as a keepsake.
I guess the only time people get to practice with actual lions is when someone is generous enough to let you use their lion to practice with or if you happen to find an old lion for sale, which I hear is rare. Or maybe you can try to make one to practice with? Either that or you bite the bullet yourself and get a new lion to practice with. Or perhaps, you go with the laundry basket or chair method for practicing lion dancing.
I mean, dragon boaters don’t practice in the bath tub and then get into a real boat on race day. So how do you people do it? I think the answer here, as with most things, comes down to money. You pay for a lion to practice with.
So I’m wondering if there are lions made out there that are are made specifically for practice purposes. No need for paint, fur, or decorations. As long as the mouth and eyes work and the weight is right, it’d be a good practice lion. Or maybe there are lions made that have imperfections. You know, like the Belly Flops of lion dance lions. Or perhaps the poorly manufactured ones that are more affordable? Where do you get those? Anybody know?