Fook Sing Lion Dance
IDENTITY: Southern Chinese
Believed to bring good luck and happiness, the Lion Dance is typically performed at Chinese New Year's celebrations to invoke a prosperous and joyful new year. It is also performed at other celebrations to mark the beginning of new cycles, such as weddings, commemorating the beginning of a couple's life together, or grand openings, marking new business ventures. Here on the Palace stage, the Fook Sing Lion Dance Troupe blesses the beginning of the 2005 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival season.
In Chinese culture, the lion is considered a divine animal. It is noble, brave, protective and powerful; it is able to ward off evil and to guard truth. The importance of the lion is so far-reaching that Lion statues are found guarding side streets, entrances to homes, palaces and temples, and even to restaurants and banks. It is an icon that abounds throughout Chinese communities the world over.
Despite its ubiquitous place in Chinese society, curiously, lions are not native to China. While knowledge of their exact introduction into China is hazy, it is believed that they were first brought from Persia as part of the Silk Road trade, and given as gifts to one of the Emperors of the Eastern Han dynasty of 25-220 AD. The lion is often associated with the Buddha—the Buddhist faith also having been brought to China via the Silk Road.Head instructor, Sifu Kok Min Chan, learned the art of Southern Chinese Lion Dance from his teacher in Malaysia nearly forty years ago. He conceived the company with two other martial artists in 2002 to promote and preserve the tradition of southern Chinese Lion Dance. A year later, the company was bequeathed with their first lion heads, which inaugurated their first public performance at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Zion Lutheran Church.
TITLE OF PIECE: The
Creation of Earth from Five Elements CHOREOGRAPHY: Sifu Kok Min Chan
Fook Sing's Lion Dance is based on an ancient Chinese creation legend. The gods sent their messengers in the form of heavenly lions, each depicting the five elements of metal, wood, fire, water and earth. Out of this harmonious union of elements, the earth was created. The journey of the lions from heaven to earth is depicted in this dance of blessing, rejuvenation and new beginnings. Lion dances are typically accompanied by clamorous sounds made by the drum, cymbal and gong because they represent the gods of wind, thunder, rain and lightning.