How to make a lion dance drum


舞狮 Lion Dance

The Lion Dance is sometimes named the Dragon Dance or the unicorn Dance. This is a very popular show, greatly appreciated in China. It is supposed to drive away the malevolent spirits and to bring happiness and prosperity. Our troupe gives demonstrations for important events such as marriages, birthdays, inaugurations of companies, and private festivities or events for companies.

狮子 Lions

Two dancers personify each lion, one moving the head and the other one moving the body. Their choreographed and highly coordinated moves breath life into to the mythical animal, and give to the audience the feeling of being in front of a lion instead of two disguised dancers. Besides the execution of technical movements, the dancers have to give character to the lion they incarnate, so that the lion looks vigorous, expressive and alert.

The colors of our lions’ coats are saffron, golden yellow or red. The Colors symbolize the heroes of the Three Kingdoms period:

  • Liu Bei / 刘备 the virtuous king, is symbolized by the saffron or the golden yellow lion.
  • Guan Yu / 关⽻, a general and strategist, embodied by the red lion.
  • Zhang Fei / 张飞, general whose bravery is famed, is symbolized by the black lion.

乐队 The orchestra

A drum, a gong and cymbals accompany the Lion dance. The drum stands for the pulse of the heart beat of the lion. A particular rhythm is associated to every steps and routines of the Lion. Each school has its own rhythms. The gong and cymbals stands for the thoughts of the Lion. With the drum, they accompany, they create the music of every routine.

狮子神态 Steps and routines

The Lion Dance was codified and named “dance of the three stars” / 三星 in Foshan by Wong Fei Hung. Since then, their moves have become quicker and much more tonic : “the seven stars” / 七星. The Lion may move on the ground, on benches or poles, depending on the place where the dance is executed and to the agility of dancers.

传奇 Legends

According to the legend told by Sigong Chan Yau Man, the Lion Dance was created during the Qing dynasty. Ferocious beasts repeatedly stormed a village near Foshan / 佛⼭, terrifying the population and destroying the harvest. As a counter-attack to this threat, the villagers decided to build a legendary Lion with feathers and canvas. They put it at the center of the village in order to scare the beasts. As the attacks stopped, the villagers attributed credit for
this victory to the Lion, and chose to celebrate it every year.

醒狮队 The Crew

Every Kung Fu school in Foshan must have their own Lion Dance troupe. Thus, it was evident that I had to create my own troupe when I opened my school in 2011. This troupe gathers the most assiduous learners and disciples in our school. Besides training the dancers in France, I help them to increase their level in Foshan with my Sifu, so that they can truly experience this culture. The ability to give life to the Lion and to move like a lion is not a question of jump height or of athletic performance. The most successful dances are those that create the illusion that a lion is in front of us. This is a requirement to be part of our troupe. Nowadays, we collaborate with the most prestigious brands associated to Chinese culture, namely the Guimet museum, the Chinese Business Club, town halls of Parisian districts and the palace Shangri-la. We honored our first contract in China on the 5th August 2015 when we were invited by the president of martial arts in Foshan. Furthermore, since 2012, our troupe demonstrates the lion dances every birthdays of Lao Wei San’s Kung Fu school in Foshan. More than simply honoring the contracts, my aim is to truly bring back the reputation of excellence of this Chinese tradition.

Benjamin Culos – Sifu of the LWS Pak Mei School

舞狮 Our Dances

Sigong Chan Yau Man and Sifu Benjamin Culos choreographed all our dances. Stories told by our dances vary with the challenges the lions meet.

舞狮 The two lions dances

Dances performed by several lions are festive and lively. It spotlights the good relationship between the lions, and the feelings they provide, spread because of the coordination between the dancers. The Lions move, run, play, roll and jump. The remarkable synchronization between the lions and the acrobatic tricks they perform will delight your guests.

高杠 The mast

Braving the danger and overcoming our fear to reach our goals are the ideas expressed by this stunning dance. The lion will reach the top of a five meter-mast to bring prosperity to your company.

步步高升 The mountain of benches

In this truly audacious and spectacular dance, the lion jumps over a mountain made of benches. After beginning its dance on the ground, the Lion jumps over 6, 8 our 10 stacked benches that represent a mountain. The top of the bench mountain is from 1.20 to 1.50m height. The difficulty of this performance and acrobatic tricks are highly enjoyed by the audience. This sensational and vibrant dance symbolizes the ascension toward success.

花鼓 The course of the show

The orchestra plays several minutes to announce the festivities, allowing the audience to take place and immerse themselves and get the spirit and the energy of the demonstration. 画龙 点睛 Then, we beckon the officials to paint the Lion’s eyes. This action awakes the Lion, and according to a legend from the Qing dynasty: The Emperor Qian Long asked an artist to paint a dragon. As the painter brought his finished artwork, the Emperor noted the eyes apples had not been painted. The painter argued that painting the eyes would have given life to the dragon and that two dragons could not live in the same palace – the Emperor is considered being a dragon in China. Since then, painting the Lion’s eyes has always been used to start a Lion Dance. 舞狮 Being awakened, the Lion greets the place and begins a routine that conveys happiness, ferocity, doubt and ardor. The Lion executes a sequence of spectacular jumps until it reaches the salad 采⻘青. Then the Lion falls asleep and the troupe uses this moment to pass out the flyers that wish health for the body and the spirit. 身⼼心健康 The Lion will then finish the routine with greetings.

Drum beat of the Lion Dance brings Chinese heritage to Purdue - Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center

The Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center (AAARCC) Lion Dance group is showcasing Purdue’s cultural diversity and entertaining the community with the Lion Dance. This traditional Chinese performance features a brightly colored, fierce-looking lion that dances to the beat of drums and symbols. The dance is meant to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck.

Featured around the world, the Lion Dance originated in the 3 rd Century and is integral to the spring Lunar New Year celebrations, as well as other happy events. On campus, the team also has or will perform for the AAARCC Senior Send-Off, Boiler Gold Rush, Family Weekend, City of West Lafayette Global Fest and even a class in exploratory studies. 

The lion costume is worn by two students, one who takes the enormous head and the other the tail end of the costume.

Josh Tseng, a first-year student from the Bay Area in California majoring in kinesiology, this year took the oversized bamboo-framed head on his shoulders, pantomiming a roar, wiggling its ears and blinking its enormous eyes. For the Purdue Lunar New Year celebration in February, the duo started on stage at the France A. Córdova Recreational Center but then leaped off and wove through the photo-snapping audience. This fall the dance was performed in the streets of West Lafayette and on stage behind the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center ( AAARCC) during the collaborative Express Fest event, an open house and resources fair for three of Purdue’s cultural centers.

The lion’s movements were synced to the clash of cymbals and the music of drums beaten by Emily Reyes, a first-year student from the Los Angeles area. She is working toward a double major in mechanical engineering technology and industrial engineering technology.

The team performs the southern style of this Chinese dance, which originated in Guangdong. In this version, the focus is on the fierce creature, while the lion in the northern version is more playful and the dance integrates more acrobatics. This performance is commonly confused with the traditional Dragon Dance, which is more of a giant, flexible puppet on long poles and manipulated by up to 15 people per dragon.

Both Reyes and Tseng said the hardest part is keeping the heavy lion head in sync with the drums.

“Technically I am his eyes,” Reyes said “He can’t see out of his head well. I change the beat so that he knows what to do.” The team practiced the movement and choreography with the help of trainer Kwan Hui, member of the Indiana Association of Chinese Americans, a community organization based in Indianapolis. Josh Tseng also contributed much to the choreography, and members also brainstormed together by watching YouTube performance videos of other Lion dance teams.

Tseng added, “During our last performance, I lost track of time and was going too long, so she changed the beat, and I knew what to do.”

Tseng, who has been performing the dance since 8 th grade, said he is challenged to bring the lion to life while often choreographing the dance “on the fly” for a wide variety of often unfamiliar venues.

The Lion Dance team of six to eight students also includes students who clang the cymbals, dance in costume, and wave flags. The AAARCC provided all the inaugural costumes and equipment. The elaborate costuming is the group’s biggest expense thus far. The current two lion costumes, both purchased used, were imported from Australia. 

Torin Vandervort, a junior majoring in visual communication design from Peterborough County, N.H., performed last year when the team was just getting started but this year was focused on administration and grant writing. Thanks to Vandervort’s efforts and support from Purdue’s Student Organization Grant Allocation Board, new costumes are on their way for lions, one of which is equipped with LED lights, and a dragon for starting a future dragon dance team.

To the students, the dance is about more than entertaining.

“Regardless of ethnic or athletic background, this team is very accepting, and we work with everyone as a team to build each other up,’ Reyes said. “We can’t have a one-man lion dance. It is important to make sure everyone is welcome and has fun. That’s what we are all about.

Vandervort agreed and added, “It’s just important to have groups like this on campus, especially given how diverse Purdue is.”

The Lion Dance Team, an AAARCC group, was founded in the fall of 2020 with the encouragement of Pamela Sari, the center’s director.  Gwynelle Condino, now an alumna, was the inaugural captain. Also serving as the undergraduate student ambassador, Cordino trained the team, meeting with members virtually due to the pandemic. The team performed for the first time in a virtual Lunar New Year celebration in spring 2021.

“Our goal is to develop students' leadership skills, cultural competency, and creative performance skills,” Sari said. “As the Lion Dance continues to grow, the AAARCC is hoping this cultural initiative will attract many more students to join.”

The AAARCC is located at 915 Fifth St. It was founded in 2015 as part of the university’s effort to foster a diverse and inclusive campus. AAARCC is the newest of the Purdue’s cultural centers, which also include the Black Cultural Center, Latino Cultural Center, Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and LGBTQ Center.

Chinese Lion Dance and Dragon Dance: interview with the master (

Today we have an unprecedented conversation about the culture of China, represented by an enchanting, incredibly smiling show of the Chinese Lion and the Chinese Dragon, which is performed in Moscow by our friend Oleg San with an energetic, positive team. It all started with a fascination with Chinese culture in general, then a more specific interest in the symbolism of the Chinese Lion (an important traditional symbol of birth and death, openness to good and rejection of evil) and the Chinese Dragon (the Chinese call themselves "descendants of the dragon", it is an important symbol of good luck), and further to the implementation of the traditional Lion dance and Dragon dance, known throughout the world for their beauty and dynamism. Oleg and his team create costumes and figures of these animals using ancient Chinese technology and, in fact, are the first to share this full-fledged layer of the mythical culture of a powerful state with Muscovites. So, a conversation with the master and manufacturer of the Lion and the Dragon, accompanied by vivid photographs of Elena Ukolova.

~ Why is Chinese culture interesting?
~ The first knowledge about Chinese culture came to me with Jackie Chan films on VHS. In addition to the images that entered my life, somewhere inside there is an incredible feeling of kinship with the state that carries the backbone of Chinese culture. From music and calligraphy to interpretation of the world around.

~ Where is the tradition of the Lion dance rooted?
~ As you know, the first lions came to China as verbal descriptions, and only then they were brought as a gift to the emperor along the Silk Road. An animal with such qualities quickly became part of folklore, the image of a protector and keeper. The tradition of the lion dance has many stories about its origin, mythological and historical. All over Asia there is a similar action, but its roots mainly come from China.

~ Why does the lion dance?
~ According to the traditional legend, the Lion chases away Nyen, a dark spirit that terrorizes the village. In historical fact, the Chinese wars drove off an entire enemy army dressed in such costumes. One way or another, the Lion dances in order to drive away evil and bring good, creating an atmosphere of a new beginning. To do this, he has loud music, firecrackers and many magical features.

~ How did the story of your first Leo come about?
~ Once again reviewing the movie "Young Master", familiar from childhood. It begins with a magnificent lion dance with platforms and tubs. The thought arose: "Why not do such an action here!" After all, these are your favorite jumps, and drums, and Lions, such expanse for creativity! With deeds, we learned that this tradition has long been a global scale.

~ Technique and lyrics for creating the frame and costume of the Lion.
~ Ohh, the technology was not immediately unraveled. We mastered it, over and over again stopping the video filmed by a random passer-by who looked into the workshop where the Lion is made. We selected materials, consulted with well-known crafters. It took more than half a year for the first Lion. In addition to the basic manufacturing techniques, each master has his own approach to detail. This is a real expanse for creativity and ingenuity!

~ What kind of person is he who likes being inside a Leo?
~ The Lion Dance person has the qualities that any traditional dancer aspires to. Namely, in addition to skill, naturalness and purity of one's intention, to create an atmosphere of well-being and joy. Perhaps the ability to treat oneself cheerfully will also not hurt.

~ Who wants to watch the lion dance?
~ The Lion's Dance gathers a huge crowd of people, it's a very live action)) Children are delighted and tear it to pieces, adults, of course, hide their joy at the beginning, but very quickly begin to smile. The acrobatic side of the Lion dance does not leave indifferent fans of entertainment. And the cutest character traits of the beast do not leave indifferent any female person.

~ What is the personality of Leo?
~ In addition to the established images in China:
Black Lion - for those who strive to show themselves and their skills.
Yellow Lion - considered the lion of wisdom.
Red Lion - noble.
There are many varieties of lions themselves in Asia, let's take the two most established images in China - FutSan and HokSan.
FutSan (the very first skin) are lions with powerful moves and stances. It was they who were ruled by the most capable students, representing their school of kungfu.
HokSan (younger) - this is more emphasis on the habits and realism of the bestiality of a lion, high jumps and acrobatics.
If we talk about the creative approach, in practice it became clear that the character of the Lion directly depends on the dancers in it! The same head on different people moves in completely different ways.

~ How do the characters of the two Leo members connect?
~ Like any action, the Lion dance is good when all participants are united in one live movement. And Leo, and the musicians, and the audience. In one Lion there are two people in the position of the Lion dance stance, coming from the martial arts. The participants, supporting each other in idea and technique, are like two children happily carrying a sheet on themselves.

~ How does Leo get into rhythm? What does he like about silence?
~ As we know from the world of music, it starts from silence. In the dance, the lion performs traditional movements and improvisation. The masters say that music starts from silence and returns to it. The same goes for the movements of the Lion dance. When the bass drum rhythm subsides, the silence becomes a large, filled space. We continue to see the movement and character traits of Leo.

~ What is your main musical accompaniment? Big drum?
~ Da Gu Chinese bass drum plus gong and traditional Buddhist cymbals.

~ Can you dance to an unfamiliar rhythm?
~ Easy. We fit right into the disco.

~ Where did the idea of ​​the running dragon come from? Who made it? What does he symbolize?
~ Made by our team together. The dragon following the yin-yang balance pearl is a symbol of man's constant striving for wisdom and balance. Wisdom and balance. And the Dragon is a strong spirit and a strong body. The idea came with the Lions. We have it fire-breathing and luminous (it has a cunning gas supply through a protective tube with high-frequency piezo ignition).

~ How many participants run optimally with him? How does attunement happen?
~ 7+1: The dragon flies by itself. The wind sets the direction, and the body freely follows it. Then everyone admires the flight of the Dragon. And if everyone starts to manage, it will become like a Zen parable about a centipede.

~ Then let's calculate the optimal composition of your performance.
~ Two Lions = 4 people, 8 people for 1 Dragon and 3 musicians.

~ Is this where sport, dance, fun and ritual meet? What else?
~ There is also a lot of joy, fun, music. Also a meeting of cultures and lots and lots of life.

~ Where can I watch the Lion Dance and the Dragon Run in Moscow?
~ In Moscow, the Lion dance is extremely rare so far, so don't miss the messages about our performances. We frequently cover new case openings involving China and Asia in general. Tea shops, restaurants, clubs, yoga centers. We fit right into the disco. We amuse people at thematic events, festivals and, of course, make people happy at children's and any holidays. In general, we are the dance of the Lion and the Dragon - multi-format! Also, the Lion dance can be seen performed by some representatives from the Chinese side and some enthusiastic people. Join the clubliondance group. And all the best ...

Thank you, Oleg San, for enriching communication, positive traditions of ancient cultures to the masses and your always delicious Chinese tea!

person Vera Uzhva date_range 10/20/14 folder The world through our eyes, Man on the Planet label Ulsei, interview, Moscow, dance queue_music Byron Metcalf ~ Medicine Story

National dances of China--China.

Han people are approximately 93.3% of the total population of China. Since ancient times, Han Chinese dances have been distinguished by their richness and variety of forms and styles.


Chinese Spring Festival - New Year's Day according to the agricultural calendar is the most important traditional holiday of the Han people. Many types of dances are dedicated to this holiday, the most common and also the most beloved are the DRAGON DANCE, LION DANCE and YANGE.

On the days of the Spring Festival, 9 is put everywhere0118 DRAGON DANCE . Usually the dragon is made of multi-colored silk, it can reach 10 meters in length. Under the deafening crackle of crackers, a dozen men holding the dragon's body on sticks run and jump, forcing the dragon to take various poses, such as "the dragon rolls on the ground", "the dragon beats with its tail", "the dragon crawls along the pole". In addition, in some places, "dragons" have their own characteristics, in Zhejiang Province, for example, the "dragon of a hundred leaf lotus" is very common. In this dance, the girls hold images of clouds and lotuses in their hands and, following the leader, form the figure of a long dragon from the leaves, so that the impression of a dragon floating in the clouds is created. In some places, the dragon is knitted from straw, into which burning incense sticks are stuck. On a festive night, the "straw dragon" wriggles in a dance, spewing flames and smoke. There are also "dragons of the earth" that spew water from their mouths in all directions. And in some provinces south of the Yellow River, images of small dragons are tied to a bench, three men, holding on to the legs of the bench, run and dance to the thunder of timpani and drums. There are also “dragons from separate links”, “dragons from five links” and others. There are also "paper dragons" that are controlled by one person.

LION DANCE has a thousand-year history. Apparently, this dance is associated with the ancient beliefs of the Han people, who wished to expel evil spirits on New Year's Eve, bring happiness and prosperity to their home. Lion dance gives great aesthetic pleasure.

The dance of the lion is usually performed by two, the front dancer holding the head of the beast in his hands, the legs representing the front paws of the lion, the other dancer representing the body and hind legs of the lion. The body of the "lion" is covered with a shaggy golden fabric. Both dancers must work very well in order to successfully imitate the movements of the beast. Sometimes the lion dance includes a playful and cute lion cub performed by one dancer. The lion dance involves a warrior who holds a colorful ball and teases with it the “lion”, who jumps, bends and “plays with the ball”, as it were. The whole dance takes place under the thunder of drums, gongs and other percussion instruments creating a cheerful festive mood.

The lion dance is performed in a different manner. In one case, the “lion” stands on the ball, jumps, runs, “stands on its hind legs”, in a word, does acrobatic tricks designed to show the power and flexibility of the beast. In another, the "lion" scratches, licks its fur, rolls on the ground, shakes its mane, showing an affectionate and playful character.

The dance of the lion requires strength and endurance from the dancers, and in addition, the skills of traditional wushu gymnastics, in order to show the strength and grace of the beast in its entirety, he must be able to do somersaults, jumps, somersaults.

YANGE is a mass dance performed on the days of the Spring Festival. A typical dance pattern consists of a range of folk dances. Usually Yangge is a long procession of tens or hundreds of people dancing through the streets and alleys, after which they gather in the square, where the main performance takes place. The procession is led by a dancer with a huge umbrella, symbolizing the new prosperous year, followed by the Dragon Dance, Lion Dance groups, then groups of people with multi-colored silk ribbons on their belts who perform the Yangge dance.

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