Analysis – America’s Got Talent – Lion Dance Me

Most of you who are reading this probably already know about Lion Dance Me’s appearance on America’s Got Talent these past few months. In case you missed it, here is the audition video:

Video courtesy of AmericasGotTalent.

And here is the quarterfinal video:

Video courtesy of AmericanBestTalent.

First off, I have to give major props to Lion Dance Me for promoting Chinese lion dance at a national level, and also for the hard work and training that they went through. I know I will never achieve their level in lion dance stunts, so it is quite humbling to watch them perform such hard routines on national television. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it past the quarterfinals. Good job for getting that far though!

In addition to the many things that went well, I saw a few things that might not have went so well. I also saw a few neutral things that can be debated about. Overall, their achievements can be discussed endlessly. Hopefully, this blog post will spark some meaningful discussions!

What went right:

  1. Difficulty of stunts – In their quarterfinal performance, the stunts were definitely hard enough to show that the team has talent. In addition to the difficulty of the stunts, doing them on top of poles that are several feet off the ground confirms the talent of the group.
  2. Continuing after a mistake – One of the worst things you can do while performing is to give up after a mistake. In the audition video, one lion slipped on the poles and fell off. The whole performance wasn’t shown but they did continue until the end of the performance.
  3. Synchronized ending – In their quarterfinal performance, all lions ended with a synchronized pop. In my opinion, a synchronized ending is a strong ending.

Neutral thoughts/opinions:

  1. Use of electronic music – In their quarterfinal performance, no lion dance music was used. Instead, a mix of Avicii’s Levels and some Asian drumming beat was used throughout the performance. Although I’m a huge fan of electronic music, I’m not sure it added anything special to the routine. I suspect that this was done because the judges told them to step it up and do something different.
  2. Emotions and expression – I realize that Lion Dance Me labels themselves as an “acrobatic act”, but I feel that they almost completely forgot about an important aspect of Chinese lion dancing – lion expressions. Lion dancing with emotions and expressions usually adds a new dimension to the performance. This might have benefited them.

What went wrong:

  1. Too many lions – Way too many lions were used during the quarterfinal performance. In Asian celebratory occasions, large numbers of lions perform at the same time to signify happiness. But when performing to showcase talent, I think two or three lions are enough. This way, the audience can focus on individual movements, hence understanding their true difficulty. With too many lions, all of them start to look similar after a period of time. At one point, it just looked like seven lions jumping up and down, back and forth on the poles.
  2. Choreography – With seven lions comes the need for good choreography. In my opinion, synchronized movements works best with multiple lions to impress an audience. Most of the stunts that they did seemed to be random and isolated. This is another reason why at one point, it looked like all seven lions were just jumping up and down, back and forth on the poles.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

I actually liked Howard Stern’s suggestion at the end of their quarterfinal performance. Imagine if there were two lions, one with the lion costume and one without, doing a completely identical and synchronized routine. This would show the true difficulty of the stunts. Most people don’t realize how hard lion dance stunts are because the lion costume hides everything that must occur to successfully perform a stunt. If one lion was masked and the other wasn’t, the audience and the judges would get to see how truly difficult lion dancing is.

What are your thoughts on Lion Dance Me’s performance on America’s Got Talent? Leave some comments below!

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