People of all cultures gather in the Asian District in northeast Oklahoma City during Chinese New Years to watch lion dances.
Dancers perform for businesses, churches, temples and other locations to scare away evil spirits and bad luck and to promote good luck throughout the year. Also, lion dances perform for newly-open businesses to promote good luck throughout the businesses’ existence.
During a performance, the lion is not the only thing noticeable. Spectators of different ethnicities are represented in the crowd.
“The performances are really fun … especially just how the different cultures cheer us on,” said Tran Nguyen, a former lion dancer. “They come and they call to see our schedule.”
The lion consists of two people. One person is the head of the lion; the other is the tail. The head is the control for movement. It also controls the eyes and the mouth. The tail is the foundation for stunts. The person who is the tail crouches over and follows the head.
The art of lion dancing is not easy to learn. Dancers go through extensive practices.
“Our practices usually they last for three to four hours, and they’re quite intense,” Nguyen said.
Practices consist of dress rehearsals, exercising, stretching, coordination of movements and working on stunts.
The rhythmic beat of the drums and cymbals play a major role in the lion dance. It has a distinct, simple beat.
Matt Tran, one of the percussions players for St. Andrew’s Dung Lac Lion Dance Group, said that the music requires more concentration than skill, because it is hard to hear yourself play over the loud firecrackers.
Lion dances occur the week of Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for the public. Performance cost varies from event to event.