SUPPLIES AND TOOLS FOR THE LION DANCE
But the dancer performing in the lion tail is equally important. He must duplicate the lead dancer's stances while remaining in an awkward, stooped posture and this dancer's vision is restricted. Both lion dancers must work especially on stance training to improve their strength: The heavy lion head requires a dancer with strong shoulders and arms; since the dancer in the lion tail is bent over all of the time, he must have a strong back and legs.
Any kung-Fu student who performs lion dancing soon finds his stances are much stronger, his stamina is increased, and he possesses greater overall strength. Lion dancing provides cardiovascular exercise, stance training, and weight training all rolled into one cultural package.
There are different types of lions that symbolize a wide variety of attitudes and which are used for different kinds of ceremonies. The lions of southern China represent the Five Heroes on the literary work “the Romance of the Three Kingdoms”.
The black lion stands for Chang Fei, element: earth, weapon: snake’s head spear. It is a determined lion. It symbolizes youth, it brings good luck and it likes playing. In ancient times, the meeting of two black lions of different kung Fu schools, caused fights between the two rival schools. However, nowadays, the black lion is a symbol of the kung Fu’s history.
The black lion's opposite is a flower-faced lion with a white beard; it stands for Liu Bei, element: water, weapon: double Gaan. It is a cautious lion. It takes its time to examine things and situations and it has maturity, wisdom, dignity, calm and peace.
General Kwan Kung, element: fire, weapon: Kwan Dao. It is portrayed by a red-faced, black-bearded lion. These two colours represent Kwan Kung’s harshness, seriousness and courage. He is represented with his head up. He is the martial arts patron and so he is considered to be a fair and honorable person.
The yellow lion stands for Kwan Kung’s elder brother, General Huang Zhong “Píu Pi”; element: metal, weapon: Pok Do. He is brave and kind.
The lion with green face represents Zhao Zilong; element: wood, weapon: spear.
None of the lion dances is complete without the music; the instruments used in the dances are large Chinese drums, several sets of cymbals and a heavy gong. The musicians always play the music along with the movements and the lion’s choreographies. The whole dancing is led by the dancer holding the lion’s head. His choreography must be intensified by the sound of the instruments.
Sometimes, we can also see in these lion dances a big- headed Buddha called “Dai Tau Fut”. He uses a rattan funfair to cool him off and make fun of the lion. His main role is to tease the lion and make him go to get the “Chiang” (green) and the red envelope “laysee”.
José L. MELERO
There are two kinds of lions: northern lion and southern lion. They are different in appearance and in the way they move. The northern lion, which looks like a dog (Pekinese), is used for entertaining in circuses and fairs. It emphasizes the stunts and skills.
The southern lion imitates felines; it has a more martial essence and it is used to honour and wish prosperity in important festivals.
The southern lion has two different styles: Fujan(Fukien) and Guandong(Canton). The Cantonese style is also divided into the Foshan style (very popular in Hong Kong) and the Heshan style (popular in Malasya and Singapore)
The lion head is constructed of a framework of bamboo and wire, with brightly colored paper fleshing out its shape. Within the head are bamboo levers and pull-strings that allow the lead dancer who carries the lion head to manipulate the lion's mouth, eyes, and ears. A long sheet of bright, multi-colored cloth forms the body and tail of the lion.
Usually two dancers perform as the lion: one dancer carries the head, another becomes the lion's tail. The lion head is characterized by quick, lively movements, and often the lion head is raised high r above the dancer. The footwork used by the lead dancer incorporates all of the various kung-fu stances and kicks. It is the dancer under the lion head who control the mouth, ear, and eye movements, establishing the lion's basic attitude.
"Not only must the lion dancer under the head excel at kung-fu, but he has to understand and imitate the lion's expression and habits. The idea is to make the papier-mâché lion appear real.