Dança do Leão

Posted by admin On maio 23, 2011 Comments Off

Dança do Leão

A Dança do Leão, bem como a Dança do Dragão, são divertimentos populares que se realizam em todas as festividades, principalmente, no Novo Ano Chinês. Normalmente ela é realizada em meados do 1º mês do calendário lunar chinês com a chegada da lua cheia, depois do dia 21 de Janeiro. Não é apenas um divertimento, mas uma representação folclórica típica, tradicional da China, sendo um exercício físico de resultados benéficos para a saúde.

Mas quando surgiu esta dança?

Sua história remontada há muitos séculos, quando nos palácios as pessoas se reuniam para divertir o rei. As mulheres executavam danças utilizando leques e fitas compridas e os homens se fantasiavam de animais, tais como a tartaruga, o macaco, o leão e outros. Nessa época utilizava-se o Leão de Pequim, que era inteiramente fechado, dançado por 2 homens que não eram vistos pelos que assistiam. O Leão era curto e peludo, parecendo um cachorro pequinês. Durante a apresentação o leão brincava e pulava numa grande bola.

Já no Sul da China, em Cantão, o Leão era diferente. O pano que separava o rabo da cabeça era mais largo e comprido e os pés dos praticantes ficavam à vista. A intenção já não era mais só do divertimento, mas uma prática importante para desenvolver a resistência física e a agilidade. Na execução da dança, como os pés estavam para fora, os praticantes treinavam pulos, tanto em altura quanto em distância, além de fortalecer os braços. Ao mesmo tempo em que eles estavam segurando a pesada cabeça do leão durante a dança, eles tinham que movimentar os olhos, mexer as orelhas, abrir e fechar a boca, acender a lâmpada que ficava no interior e comer a verdura. Tudo isso enquanto executavam difíceis passos, o que tornava a Dança do Leão um espetáculo maravilhoso de se assistir.

É comum durante a dança, o leão “comer” uma alface ou outra verdura verde qualquer. Isto porque o ideograma SAN TCHOI (verdura viva) também tem o significado de “dinheiro que cresce”.
Quando a conotação da Dança do Leão se modificou, ela que era vista somente nos palácios, passou a ser parte integrante das festas ocorridas nas academias ou nas ruas, e até mesmo em escolas e clubes.

No passado, as pessoas suficientemente ricas convidavam uma academia para apresentar a Dança do leão, por ocasião do Ano Novo, em suas residências. Acreditava-se que isto traria muita sorte, saúde e grande fortuna para aquele ano. Por isso, a dança também é importante para comerciantes. Eles faziam questão que o leão entrasse em seus estabelecimentos, na certeza de que isso traria excelentes negócios e grandes lucros. Faz parte da tradição se colocar dinheiro para que o leão recolha durante as danças e, às vezes, os comerciantes o colocavam em lugares muito altos ou de difícil acesso e até mesmo de forma disfarçada. Assim, se o praticante não fosse bastante habilidoso, não teria o êxito de alcançá-lo…

O que parece simples é bastante complicado e exige muita técnica e treino; não é qualquer aluno que pode aprender a Dança do Leão. É necessário que seja alguém bem preparado. A execução desta dança é bastante cansativa, razão pela qual os praticantes se revezam durante a apresentação. Existem 3 tipos de leões: o Leão Vermelho, que representa a coragem e a valentia; O Leão Preto, que representa a ferocidade e o leão Colorido, que representa a mansidão. Na Dança do Leão o mais comum é o vermelho e o preto, combinado com o nariz azul, as orelhas pretas e a barba curta. Hoje em dia outras cores, como o dourado, o prateado, o rosa forte, já fazem parte das cores dos leões, porque uma vez por ano, em Hong Kong, vários países participam de campeonatos de Dança do Leão e também combate entre eles

Quando a Dança do Leão é usada na celebração do Ano Novo, o ritual além de colorido é bastante barulhento, principalmente quando o ano a ser festejado é regido por um animal de bom augúrio. Essas comemorações são muito alegres e intensas. Nelas são usados pratos, gongos, tambores, fogos de artifício e estandartes.
Faz parte também da comemoração uma personagem vestida de monge que brinca com o leão o tempo todo. Esse monge, o TAI TAO FAT, simboliza a simplicidade e nobreza de sentimentos e isto lhe possibilita uma perfeita integração com os animais e com a natureza…

Na China, quando o pessoal que dança o leão excursiona de uma cidade para a outra, ao encontrar no percurso alguma academia, eles por tradição tem que parar e cumprimentar o pessoal desta academia.
Nas academias é utilizada a Dança do Leão onde uma pessoa segura a cabeça e a outra fica no rabo do leão. No entanto, nas festividades realizadas pelos clubes, é utilizada a Dança do Dragão, onde participam cerca de 20 pessoas…

O leão é conhecido como o rei dos animais, é usado como símbolo de felicidade e anuncia tempos melhores. Conta a lenda que as pessoas que participavam das comemorações se revestem de muita sorte, felicidade e paz, além de grande saúde. No Brasil, o Sifu Adriano Barros, representante do estilo Louva-a-deus, é Presidente da Associação Mantis de Kung fu que com a sua parceria pretende implantar essa maravilhosa dança no Brasil.

History

The story goes that once upon a time a monk had a dream in which there were many sorrows and evils plaguing the land. The monk prayed and asked the gods how he could prevent these evils from occurring. The gods told him that a lion would protect them and fight back the evils. The Chinese people had never see a lion before, but had heard stories that the lion was the king of all the other animals, so the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals he could think of and so made a lion.

If you look closely at any lion, you can see a red sash tied on its horn. It is told that the lion was disrespectful to the Jade Emperor. This of course caused the Jade Emperor to get very angry, so as a punishment he chopped off his horn (The source of his life) and the lion died. The Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) felt bad for him so she tied his horn back on with a red sash with golden leaves and chanted to the lion and he came back to life.

Lion dances can be broadly categorised into three styles, Chinese Northern (北獅), Chinese Southern (南獅), and Taiwanese (臺灣獅). The Chinese Northern dance was used as entertainment for the imperial court and elsewhere. The northern lion is usually red, orange and yellow (sometimes with green fur for the female lion), shaggy in appearance, with a golden head. The northern dance is acrobatic and may include dangerous stunts.

The Chinese Southern dance is more symbolic. It is usually performed as a ceremony to scare away evil spirits and to summon luck and fortune. The Chinese southern lion exhibits a wide variety of colour and has a distinctive head with large eyes (of an eagle), a mirror on the forehead (demons are supposedly scared of their own reflection), and a single horn at center of the head (the horn of a unicorn mentioned earlier). Lion dance costumes are considered to be spiritually protective when used as they are traditionally blessed before usage.

The Taiwanese dance integrates with martial arts. The focus on martial arts is very different from the Chinese southern dance whose fancy style is more suitable for circuit shows. In addition to dance steps, the differences between the Taiwanese and the Chinese Southern dances lie in the lion appearance and music. Unlike the Chinese Southern lion whose eyes and mouth can be moved, the Taiwanese lion is less elaborate and can be roughly divided into two categories: open-mouth lion (開口獅) and closed-mouth lion (閉口獅).

Chinese Northern Lion

The Chinese Northern Lion (北獅) Dances are usually performed appear in pairs in the north China. Northern lions have shaggy orange and yellow hair with a red bow on its head to indicate a male lion, or a green bow to represent a female.

During a performance, northern lions resemble Pekingese or Fu Dogs and movements are very life-like. Acrobatics are very common, with stunts like lifts or balancing on a giant ball. Northern lions sometimes appear as a family, with two large “adult” lions and a pair of small “young lions”. Ninghai, in Ningbo, is called the “Homeland of the Lion Dance” (狮舞之乡) for the northern variety.

Chinese Southern Lion

The Chinese Southern (南獅) Lion dance originated from Guangdong, the homeland of the Chinese southern style lion. The Chinese southern horned lions are believed to be Nians.

The Guangdong’s or Cantonese style can be further divided into Fut San (Buddha Mountain), Hok san (Crane Style), Fut-Hok (minor style that exhibits a hybrid of Fut San and Hok San), Jow Ga (minor style performed by practitioners of Jow family style kung fu, exampled by the Wong People), and the Green Lion (Qing1 Shi1 – popular with the Fukien/Hokkien and Taiwanese).

The styles of lion dance do vary widely, but the lion head designs exhibit greater differences. The traditional Fo Shan lion has bristles instead of fur and weighs more than the current in-fashion ones. The tails are extremely long and are perpendicular to the head for three fourths of the tail’s length, then it goes parallel to the head. The eyes also swivel left and right. On the back there are gold foiled rims and traditional characters saying the troupe’s name. Older Liu Bei lions also have black in the tail while the new ones do not. The Gwan Gung has a red and black tail with white trim. The Huang Joon has a full yellow tail with white trim. The Zhang Fei is infrequently made, so details are unclear. All the traditional style Fo Shan have pop-up teeth, tongue and also the interior of the tail is white; the designs of the tail are also more square and contain a diamond pattern going down the back; it is also common to see and hear bells attached to the tail. Although most lion dance costumes comes with a set of matching pants, some practitioners use black Kung-Fu pants to look more traditional. The Wong people perform the lion dance using this type of lion. The newer styles of lions for Fo Shan replace all the bristles with fur and the tails are shorter. They eyes are fixed in place, and the tongue and teeth do not pop up. The tail is more curvy in design. The tail does not have a diamond pattern, and lacks bells. In addition, the dancers wear flashier pants which lack the ease of movement allowed when wearing Kung-Fu pants. Sometimes the newer versions use a sequin material over the traditional lacquer; even the new lacquer is shinier and does not last as long while the heavier ones do last longer with semi-dull lacquer. Recently, lion dance costumes are made very durable and some are even waterproof. Newer lions are made with modern materials such as an aluminium and laser stickers for the outer designs, while the traditional ones use bamboo and more durable layered cloth.

Fo Shan is the style many Kung Fu schools adopt. It requires powerful moves and strength in stance. The lion becomes the representation of the Kung Fu school and only the most advanced students are allowed to perform.

The He Shan style lion, popular in many places, has grown to fame because of its richness of expression, unique footwork, magnificent-looking appearance and vigorous drumming style. The credit should go to the founder, the “Canton Lion King” 冯庚长( Feng Geng Zhang). According to records, 冯庚长was born in “沙坪越塘大朗村” village in He Shan county. His father was a secular disciple of the Shaolin Temple, and instructed him in martial arts and lion dance at an early age. Later, he further studied martial arts and Southern lion dance in Fuo Shan with fellow villager 冯了性 (a famous physician and the creator of this dance), before returning to his hometown and setting up his own training hall, teaching and researching the art of lion dance with great devotion. Given his considerable martial ability, a result of hard and dedicated training, he was able to develop a unique and outstanding version of lion dance. 冯庚长 was not only able to carry on the art, he was also particularly involved in creating new techniques through mimicking. Together with his junior 胡沛, he kept cats and studied their behaviour carefully; they were eventually able to incorporate from the “cat and mouse game” the various movements such as “Catching mouse, playing, catching birds, high escape, lying low and rolling”. They also made changes to the body of the Fo Shan lion, making it more well-built and powerful in structure, but with agile footwork and eye-catching colours, and played to the rhythm of the “Seven Star Drums”. In short, in terms of expression, dance steps, build of the lion and the drumming style, he created a whole new style of lion dancing which was considered high in entertainment value and visual appeal. There are many important points which also prove 冯庚长 to have been the chief figure responsible for the creation of the He Shan style of lion dance. In the early 1920s, the He Shan lion dance was performed at Sun Yat-Sen’s assuming office in Guangzhou, creating quite a sensational stir both within and outside of the province. Around 1945, He Shan lion performers were often invited to perform in many places within China and Southeast Asia during many celebratory festivals. The He Shan style was strongly favoured and sensational in Singapore, having been featured in many nationwide events, even gaining the title of “Lion King of Kings”, with wide press coverage by both Chinese and English media. The noble bearing of the He Shan lion is still promoted as a tourist attraction in Singapore today, with a large banner featuring this style being placed on the tourist attraction of Sentosa. According to 冯昆杰, today’s He Shan lions are the same as those created by 冯庚长 by improvising on the Fo Shan lion; it is of a powerful and impressive build, with a “王” character on its forehead and a confident expression, and combined with the unique invention of 冯庚长, the “Seven Star Drum”, the He shan lion displays a formidable show of power. When the Fo Shan lion dance was brought to Singapore, a lot of works have been done to make the lion more ” cat-like”. Master Ho Kai Seng of Singapore He Shan Association shortened the tail of He Shan lion so that it looks more like a cat. And master Liang Zhao Fu, who is wildly known as South-east Asia drum king, created Fo Shan 18 beats and devised a way to play the drum with not just rhythms but also gusto. The He Shan drum nowadays is composed by master Lu Xin Yao of Singapore He Shan Association.

There is three important and the first colors of the lions. The lion with the white colored fur is considered to be the oldest of the lions. The lion with the goldish yellowish fur is the considered to be the middle child. Not the youngest or the oldest. And the black colored lion is considered to be the youngest lion so when people use this colour lion it should move fast and quick like a young child.

When the dancing lion enters a village or township, it is supposed to pay its respects first at the local temple(s), then to the ancestors at the ancestral hall, and finally through the streets to bring happiness to all the people. There are three types of lions: the golden lion, representing liveliness; the red lion, representing courage; and the green lion, representing friendship.

Three other famous lion types can also be identified: Liu Bei, Guan Gong (Cantonese: Kwan Kung) and Zhang Fei. They represent historic characters in China that were recorded in the classic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. These three were blood oath brothers that swore to restore the Han dynasty.

The Liu Bei (Cantonese: Lau Pei) lion is the eldest of the three brothers and has a yellow (actually imperial yellow as he became the first emperor of the Shu-Han Kingdom) based face with white beard and fur (to denote his wisdom). It sports a multi coloured tail (white underside) with black as one of them which encompasses the colors of the five elements, as it was believed that being the Emperor, he had the blessings of the heavens and thus control of the five elements. There are three coins on the collar. This lion is used by schools with an established “Sifu” (Martial art master) or organization and is known Rui shih (Shui Shi) or The Auspicious Lion.

The Guan Gong (Cantonese: Kwan Kung) lion has a red based face, black bristles, with a long black beard (as he was also known as the “Duke with the Beautiful Beard”). The tail is red and black with white trim and a white underside. He is known as the second brother and sports two coins on the collar. This Lion is known as Hsing Shih (Shing Shi) or the Awakened Lion. This lion is generally used by most.

The Zhang Fei (Cantonese: Chang Fei) lion has a black based face with short black beard, small ears, and black bristles. The tail is black and white with white trim and a white underside. Traditionally this lion also had bells attached to the body, which served as a warning like a rattler on a rattle snake. Being the youngest of the three brothers, there is a single coin on the collar. This Lion is known as the Fighting Lion because Zhang Fei had a quick temper and loved to fight. This lion is used by clubs that were just starting out or by those wishing to make a challenge.

Later an additional three Lions were added to the group. The Green faced lion represented Zhao Yun or Zhao (Cantonese: Chiu) Zi Long. He has a green tail with white beard and fur and an iron horn. He is often called the fourth brother, this lion is called the Heroic Lion because it is said he rode through Cao Cao’s million man army and rescued Liu Bei’s infant and fought his way back out. The Yellow (yellow/orange) face and body with white beard represented Huang Zhong (Cantonese: Wong Tsung) , we was given this color when Liu Bei rose to become Emperor. This lion is called the Righteous Lion. The white colour lion is known as Ma Chao (Cantonese: Ma Chiu), he was assigned this color because he always wore a white arm band to battle against the Emperor of Wei, Cao Cao, to signify that he was in mourning for his father and brother who had been murdered by Cao Cao. Thus this lion was known as the funeral lion. This lion is never used except for a funeral for the Sifu or some important head of the group, and in such cases it is usually burned right after. Even if it is properly stored, it is not something one would want to keep, as it is symbolically inauspicious to have around. It is sometimes though, confused with the silver lion which sometimes has a white like colouring. These three along with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were known as the “Five Tiger Generals of Shun,” each representing one of the colors of the five elements.

 

 

Music and instruments

Lion Dance is performed accompanied by the music of beating of drums, cymbals, and gongs instruments synchronise to the lion dance movements and actions. The recent development of an application played on iPhone/iPad/iPod touch to play lion dance instruments has contributed to the evolution of how people can play lion dance music.

Costumes

The lion dance costumes used in these performances can only custom made in speciality craft shops in the rural part China and imported at considerable expense for most foreign countries outside Asia. Funds raised through subscriptions and pledges made by members of local cultural and business societies. For country like Malaysia with a essential population of Chinese origins, local expertise may still available in making the “lion” costumes and music instruments beside importing them from China.

Lion Dance on Chinese New Years and festivals

During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of “cai ching” (採青), literally means “plucking the greens”, a quest by the ‘lion’ to pluck the auspicious green normally ‘vegetables’ like lettuce which in Chinese called ‘cái’(菜)that sound like ‘cái’(财)(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a “Red Envelope” containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The “lion” will dance and approach the “green” and “red evelope” like a curious cat, to “eat the green” and “spit” it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like a auspicious character but keep the “red envelope”. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the “red envelope”.

Different types of vegetables, fruits, foods or utensils with auspicious and good symbolic meanings; for instance pineapples, pamelos, bananas, oranges, sugar cane shoots, coconuts, beer, clay pots or even crabs can be used to be the “greens” (青) to be “plucked” to give different difficulty and challenge for the lion dance performers. But the difficulties of the challenge should comes with the bigger the rewards of the “red envelope” given.

The lion dance, sometimes along with the dragon dance, is also usually performed at many other important grand occasions, including Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals, business opening events, birthday celebrations, honour guest welcoming and wedding ceremonies by the Chinese communities.

In the old days, the lettuce was hung 15 to 20 feet above ground and only a well-trained martial artist could reach the money while dancing with a heavy lion head. These events became a public challenge. A large sum of money was rewarded, and the audience expected a good show. Sometimes, if lions from multiple martial arts schools approached the lettuce at the same time, the lions are supposed to fight to decide a winner. The lions had to fight with stylistic lion moves instead of chaotic street fighting styles. The audience would judge the quality of the martial art schools according to how the lions fought. Since the schools’ reputation were at stake, the fights were usually fierce but civilized. The winner lion would then use creative methods and martial art skills to reach the high-hanging reward. Some lions may dance on bamboo stilts and some may step on human pyramids formed by fellow students of the school. The performers and the schools would gain praise and respect on top of the large monetary reward when they did well. Nowadays, performances to attain the red envelope are not as rigorous but lion dance troupes still have the onus of making a good show or face the consequence of an unhappy client.

During the 1950s-60s, in some areas with high population of Chinese and Asian communities especially the Chinatown in many foreign countries abroad China in the world; people who joined lion dance troupes were “gangster-like” and there was a lot of fighting amongst lion dance troupes and kung fu schools. Parents were afraid to let their children join lion dance troupes because of the “gangster” association with the members. During festivals and performances, when lion dance troupes met, there would be fights between groups. Some lifts and acrobatic tricks are designed for the lion to “fight” and knock over other rival lions. Performers even hid daggers in their shoes and clothes, which could be used to injure other lion dancers’ legs, or even attached a metal horn on their lion’s forehead, which could be used to slash other lion heads. The violence got so extreme that at one point, the Hong Kong government had to put a stop to lion dance completely. Now, as with many other countries, lion dance troupes must attain a permit from the government in order to perform lion dance. Although there is still a certain degree of competitiveness, troupes are a lot less violent and aggressive. Today, lion dance is a more sport-oriented activity. Lion dance is more for recreation than a way of living. But there are still plenty of troupes who still practice the traditional ways and taboos of the lion dance as it is practiced in the past.

Comments are closed.