25.1.2020 Happy New Year of the Rat

Happy lunar new year everybody. It’s been wild weather here in Sydney, Australia with the recent and ongoing bushfires, warm weather, rain, humidity all rolled into one. The weather has put a dampener on some of the festivities with some fireworks shows being cancelled due to the unpredictable weather (and total fire band that come with it) but it has also meant a chance for the community to rally together to help those in need. Step in lion dancing teams to do their part. A few of the teams have put their hands up to donate the proceeds of their red pockets towards the various bushfire appeals. It’s a great initiative and a chance for everyone to get on board.

Aside from that, the performances have been in full swing here and I’ve had a chance to catch various groups perform in Sydney. It’s always exciting watching other groups perform. Every team has their own lion dancing style and drumming beat and it’s great to see the teams put that together into a show/routine. I think the great thing about Sydney and it’s lion dancing culture is that the groups all stem from different Chinese diaspora. That means that they bring with them stylistic differences. Eg, the Dragon Style Kung Fu team’s background is from Hong Kong hence a very strong Hong Kong flavour to their dancing and drumming. Yau Kung Mun has performed well on the world stage with the jong performances so they play with a strong Sar Ping Hok San flavour. Most of the other Cabramatta teams have their roots in Vietnam so their style is more in tune with the Chinese Vietnamese style of lion dancing and drumming with the classic metal on metal gong. And their newer Cabramatta teams are largely made up of Australian born (Asian) performers where the influence is the Chinese Vietnamese style but they are no longer bound to defined stylistic “traditions” and throw in everything- Vietnamese style beats, Hok San beats, Lor Leung beats, HK Fut San beats all paired with energetic dancing.

It all makes for an exciting and interesting spectacle especially as a lion dancing performer. Every team is same same but different.

Dragon Style Kung Fu

Dragon Style Kung Fu Association started their performances with an eye dotting ceremony of their two new lions. They’ve had performances around Sydney wowing the crowds at various shopping malls. The team is kindly donating all red pockets collected from the shops and audience members towards the bushfire appeal. The Sydney Dragon Style Kung Fu team’s lion dancing style is based off the Hung Gar style of lion dancing from Hong Kong. There’s an emphasis / or attempt on trying to invoke the emotions of happiness, anger, pleasure, scared through the ground movements and head raising. BUT in saying that, there needs to be a balance between what we are trying to do as lion dancers and what the crowd loves to see. They want jumping lions, head sits and shoulder stacks and plenty of great photo opportunities so we give them that too. The drumming itself is half about playing the beats but also about trying to play beautifully AKA “flower drumming 花鼓.” In flower drumming, it’s a chance for the drummer to try to grab some visual attention away from the lions and to themselves through the use of tossing the sticks, stylistically waving your arms around etc. I think the mark of a great drummer is one who keeps you guessing what flowery move they’ll do next.

Photo credit to https://facebook.com/dragonstylekungfu/

Australian Yau Kung Mun

I managed to see Yau Kung Mun during their Chinatown performance. Their drumming was great and their well wishes to the shops after each performance was a nice touch. I still remember seeing them performing around Chinatown many moons ago when they had their drum parked on the back of a ute and the ute slowly following the team. They’ve certainly grown as a team from then but it’s still great to see familiar faces from then until now.

Qing Fong Lion Dance

A relatively new team, they did a smashing job at the Ming Yue Lay Buddhist Temple in Bonnyrigg on Chinese New Year Eve. Not to be outdone by the rain, they moved themselves into the main temple hall and captivated the audience with their various routines and energetic dancing. They had 2 drunken lion routines, a Buddha playing with a lion and others. Keep it up guys.

Super long firecracker

Sydney Yun Yee Tong

Yun Yee Tong has been a fixture at the Canley Vale Kuan Yin Temple for the midnight performance for years and this year was no different. They had a few exciting routines including a drunken lion, drumming routine and dragon dancing. They were also all around Cabramatta throughout the Chinese New Year period.

Jing Yee Lion Dance Association

Another new team on the block but doing some amazing things. These guys seem super passionate about lion dancing and they all look like they’re having a blast whilst they’re performing. I got to catch them dotting one of their new lions at Vinh Phat restaurant In Cabramatta. They had plenty of energy in their performances including their little baby lion. It was too cute. I hope to catch more of their performances around.

Trung Han Qun (THQ Cabra)

I got to catch THQ a number of times as they roamed around Cabramatta doing their shop performances. They brought out plenty of colourful lions and also a really cute baby lion complete with a pair of young lion dancers. It was good to see that they are getting the younger generation involved. I remember when I first joined my kung fu school, I was 13 but even at that age, those old lion heads were just too heavy for me to lift and dance around in. So kudos to THQ for getting the kids some smaller lions.

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