World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival

FESTIVAL DANCERS

Leung’s White Crane Lion & Dragon Dance Association

DANCE ORIGIN: China
GENRE: Chinese Lion Dance
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Jimmy Leung
CHOREOGRAPHER: Daniel Leung
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2007
Website: sfwhitecrane.com

Leung's White Crane Lion & Dragon Dance Association was founded in 1971 by Leung brothers Kuen, Kwan, and Allen. The brothers' long association with the lion dance began as children playing in China: at home, they invented a lion costume out of a large bamboo basket and a blanket, and danced while banging on empty kerosene cans. Boyhood play grew to a serious study of martial arts and lion dancing in China, and they brought their skills to the Bay Area., Leung’s White Crane has promoted and participated in a long list of shows, celebrations, films, competitions, and charity work all over North merica and Asia. Their amusing and joyful lions dance annually at the grand finale of San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade. Kuen's son, Daniel, is headmaster of martial arts; Kwan's son, Jimmy, coaches advanced lion dance; and Allen's son, Clifton, manages operations.

2018 PERFORMANCE

TITLE: Tribute to Ann Woo
ARTISTS: Raymond Ching, Candy Choi, Lisa Hi, Willson Hoang, Sam Hu, Elison Huang, Kerry Huynh, Jimmy Khuc, Michael Kong, Tai Lau, Daniel Leung, Daniel Li, Jacky Li, Justin Li, Calvin Liu, Brandon Lok, David Luong, Grace Ma, Simon Nie, Peter Ruan, Lina Tam, Kathy Tan, Raymend Tang, On Wong, Jenny
Yang, Lili Yee, Carmen Yu, Calvin Zhen

This performance was a tribute to Ann Woo, who passed away in 2017. She was a longtime Festival artist and was the Founder and Artistic Director of the Chinese Performing Arts of America. Ann was devoted to bringing Chinese arts and culture to the American public as a dancer, choreographer, playwright, and producer, and was the recipient of our Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Ann’s passing is a great loss for the Bay Area’s arts community.

The tribute by Leung’s White Crane began with a magical Chinese lion and progressed to a performance by an even more magical Chinese dragon. Ann Woo created the dragon choreography in 2012 in honor of the Chinese Year of the Dragon. The excerpt in this performance is from Chinese Performing Arts of America’s Celestial Dragon, a rhythmic, fast-paced tribute to the Chinese Dragon King.

This dance is meant to be both frightening and benevolent – dragons are fierce, but they also bring good luck. In Chinese literature, the Dragon King is the supreme ruler of all waters. He manipulates the weather, bringing rainfall, and by evoking the fluidity of water, can shape shift into human form. The Dragon King possibly originated from Hindu and Buddhist religions, and this dance style was performed in Han Dynasty China as villagers danced to bring rain and prevent sickness, with up to 50 dancers moving the dragon puppet in undulating, watery patterns.

Ann Woo was inspired to create Celestial Dragon by the approaching turn of this millennium: the year 2000 was also the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Woo traveled to Dailan in Northern China to learn and document traditional techniques and brought back from China a fantastic 160-foot-long handcrafted dragon, which was painstakingly modified for black light technology, repainting each scale to make a glittering rainbow. Traditional dragon dance music is slow and flowing, but Woo asked composer Phil Young to complement Celestial Dragon with up-tempo electronic music, which you will hear today.

China's lion dance originated over 1500 years ago. The lion is not native to China, but was introduced by travelers along the Silk Road, when a performing lion and a trainer were given as a tribute to Emperor Shun (126-145 BCE). Travelers from India and Nepal carried in Buddhist images of the lion, a symbol of strength and dignity. Throughout China, the lion came to symbolize strength, luck, and joy, and acrobats donned costumes to bring the lion alive.

2009 PERFORMANCE

Title: Curious Lion Seeking Immortal Green Flower
Dancers:
Danny Luong, Peter Luong
Musicians:
Morgan Liao, David Luong, Victor Leung

China's lion dance originated over 1500 years ago. The lion is not native to China, but was introduced by travelers along the Silk Road, when a performing lion and a trainer were given as a tribute to Emperor Shun (126-145 BCE). Travelers from India and Nepal carried in Buddhist images of the lion, a symbol of strength and dignity. Throughout China, the lion came to symbolize strength, luck, and joy, and acrobats donned costumes to bring the lion alive. For over a thousand years, China's lions have been dancing—to entertain imperial courts, and to bless farming societies, official celebrations, temples, plantings and harvests, religious rites, and in modern times, business openings, births, and weddings.

The southern lion dance, performed today by Leung’s White Crane Lion & Dragon Dance Association, remains a dance of entertainment. China's early choreographers had never seen a lion, so the southern lion looks and acts more like a cat, and this northern lion—short, stocky, and furry—resembles an oversized Pekinese. One performer holds the lion’s head with both hands and another crouches at the lion’s tail. The dancers make great use of the animal's prancing legs, and their movements follow a specified sequence. The dance is highly acrobatic and it requires extensive training in martial arts. Traditionally, a martial artist leads the dance; with a pair of adult lions and one or two young cubs. The traditional payment for lion dancers is also amusing: it is made through the Choy Cheng, or “Eating of the Green (Vegetable)." A leafy green vegetable is tied to a lucky red envelope filled with money. The lion approaches, tests the food to make sure it's not a firecracker, dances to ward off competitors, and then eats its pay.

2007 PERFORMANCE

TITLE: Lion Leaping Through the Plum Blossom Mountain to Reach the High Green
CHOREOGRAPHERS/COACHES: Daniel Leung and Jimmy Leung
DANCERS: Danny Luong and Peter Luong
MUSICIANS: Larry Chan, Morgan Liao, David Luong, Kevin Yu

There are many different kinds of lion dances with distinctive styles and historical roots. Leung’s White Crane presents a Cantonese style similar to the type preserved by Cantonese opera groups in the late 18th century. Lion Leaping Through the Plum Blossom Mountain to Reach the High Green symbolizes the goals that human beings try to attain during their lifetimes, and the eight posts represent the obstacles and challenges encountered in life to reach those goals. With hard work, discipline, imagination, and teamwork, the lion achieves its goals and brings joy and luck to the people.

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