Sailor brings Lion Dance to life

LS Dinh Tran tries the ceremonial drum used in the Lion Dance Ceremony. Photo by LS Jordan Moore, FMF

LS Dinh Tran tries the ceremonial drum used in the Lion Dance Ceremony. Photo by LS Jordan Moore, FMF

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A worker from Dockyard’s Fleet Maintenance Facility introduced his co-workers to the magic of the Cantonese Lion Dance ahead of the Jan. 28 Chinese New Year’s celebrations.

MS Adam Choi, who works as a Radar Maintainer in Fleet Maintenance Facility’s Radar Shop, introduced the colourfully painted, shiny paper mâché and bamboo lion costumes and traditional ceremonial drums to members of his unit last week.

The informal gathering occurred just four days ahead of China’s annual lunar festival, also known as the Spring Festival, and was an effort by MS Choi to share his cultural traditions.

“They were pretty intrigued,” he said. “Most of them never had hands-on experience with the Lion before, and few people in North America do because the ceremony is considered sacred and most people don’t have access to it.”

MS Choi says according to traditional beliefs in Southern China, lion dancing signifies courage, stability, superiority and can chase away bad spirits when performed with loud noises, such as fire cracker, cymbals and gongs or drums.

MS Stephan Girard, a Radar Maintainer who works alongside MS Choi, attended the gathering and climbed inside one of the two giant lion heads to try his hand at the dance. He said learning choreography involved in the ceremonial dance was both physically and mentally challenging, but highly enjoyable.

“Just to be able to try on the equipment and climb inside the lion head was very interesting for me,” said MS Girard. “MS Choi showed us the positions and movements, you need to go left, right, move from a crouching position to tall while using your arms, back and legs; it was quite the workout and highly demanding just trying it out for a few minutes. There were even levers inside the head to control the opening and closing of the lions eyes while you are dancing.”

MS Choi, 32, was born in Calgary and got his first taste of the Lion Dance from a church group he was part of as a youth, and was hooked for life. He hadn’t participated in a Lion Dance for over 10 years but can’t resist its allure every time he sees it performed.

“When I started watching lion dance videos on YouTube I would start itching to jump right on the screen and perform the dance with them,” he said. “Then I realized what I really wanted was to perform Lion dancing with all of my friends in the navy and knew they too wouldn’t be able to resist trying it.”

While at his family home over the Christmas break MS Choi asked a Priest from his church group in Calgary to borrow the eye-catching felines and drums in an effort to “bring the lions to life in Victoria.”

When his co-workers and curious onlookers saw the costumes, their eyes immediately lit up.

“Initially some people were apprehensive to try the dance and put the costume on, but once they realized the detail and colour, the beating of the ceremonial drums used in the ceremony, and the intricacies of the costume and mechanics of the dance they were very enthusiastic.”

MS Choi was encouraged by the level of interest from his co-workers and is currently in negotiations with Personnel Support Programs to form a Lion Dance club at the base with an aim to have the club perform at Chinese New Year’s celebrations in 2018.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.