When I first heard about UCLA’s ACA Lion Dance in 2011, I almost squealed with joy. A lion dance team at the school I was going to! How exciting is that? Unfortunately, the first academic quarter was way too hectic for me to check out their practices. After settling in though, I got the chance to do so.
The team was formed in the early 2000’s by four people. Of these four people, I know one personally and the other is the brother of one of my friends. There are actually some pretty complicated connections between this team and a few other teams, which influences the structure of the practices.
Practices take place in an underground parking garage on campus. Many people come early to relax and chat with others. Once a good number of students show up, the coordinators scream “Rows and Columns!” which signals for everyone to line up. Another scream of “Ready, hut!” and every member is doing the standardized team salute.
Immediately after, the team warms up with jumping jacks and stretches.
Occasionally, a parking enforcement officer may decide to drive his truck into the garage and induce some paranoia amongst people.
After the stretching, a series of low, medium, and high horse stances are practiced. Both arms are extended in front while a flicking motion is done by the wrist.
Afterwards, a semicircle is formed for drumming and cymbaling practice. I’ve never seen them bring a gong though, which makes me wonder if they ever use one. In fact, I wonder if they even have one anymore.
The team utilizes both Fut San and Hok San drumming with an added twist. Many members clap their hands as a substitute for using cymbals. This is actually a good way to practice, since cymbal clashing can get significantly louder than the drum, especially when there are a large number of cymbals.
After drumming and cymbaling is the fun stuff! Woot woot! Usually, the team breaks up into two groups – newbies and veterans. The coordinators then split up to supervise each group. Lion movements are practiced for the remainder of the class.
UCLA ACA Lion Dance. RAWR!