Lion dance honors Lunar New Year

By Christopher Reynoso

The International Student Advancement Program (ISAP) kicked off the Lunar New Year with a lion dance and other festivities on February 16 at the E3 quad.

The main event of the festival was the lion dance performed by the Shaolin Temple Martial Arts Academy.

In addition to the lion dance ISAP hosted other activities including Chinese yo-yo, a ring toss, a lucky draw, Chinese calligraphy and Chinese paper cutting. All to celebrate the year of the rooster. There was a large body of students lined up for the activities, the audience grew even larger when the lion dance began.

The rhythmic drumming caught people’s attention. The crowd size doubled in the first five mintues of the dance. A lion dance is a traditional Asian dance performed during special events such as the Chinese New Year.

Variations of the dance can be found all across Asian nations, including China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Vietnam.

Another type of dance performed at this event was the dragon dance. “It’s to bring good fortune, good luck and there’s a lot of symbolism behind it. Every decoration on the lion has a significance,” said Emmett Yu, a dancer in the silver lion.

According to a dancer in the golden lion Sky Fung, the story of why they celebrate is a monster named Nian used to wreck havoc on a villege.

The villegers asked a lion for help but the creature refused. They decided to create something similar to the lion making it out of paper mache and fabric. When Nian returned the villegers scared it off and it never came back.

Master Bruce Wen of he academy added that they chose the gold and silver lions for the dance to bring wealth and fortune in the New Year. The lion’s colors symbolize the precious metals they were named after.

“We wanted to express our Chinese culture and define the difference between Chinese culture and American culture [so] ELAC students could learn more about our traditional culture,” said Shouzheng Zhang, president of ISAP, whose American name is Carol.

ELAC currently hosts 700 international students, and the goal of ISAP is to provide assistance to those students transferring to universities

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