In Spring 2012, Mandy Wong (Philosophy, 2013) and Arthur Boo (Engineering, 2014) performed a lion dance at an event for the winner of Miss Asian American Colorado 2011, Dao Than. The event was an art exhibit for students that showcased all forms of expression, like dance. A lion dance consists of two people, one controlling the head and the other being the tail, chasing off evil spirits to bring good luck. The story goes that a village plagued by a demon asked for help from the gods. They sent a lion to chase the spirit away, but the lion told the people of the village that he couldn’t keep coming to save them. Thus, the people created and performed the lion dance to chase off evil spirits.
For Mandy, lion dancing is a way to preserve culture and acts as a part of the community. She’s been dancing for about six years. Part of lion dancing is mentoring others and being respectful to the culture, as well as not wrecking the venue the dancers are performing at.
"It’s important not to break anything," she said, in reference to the qualities needed of a good lion dancer. "You have to be knowledgeable about the cultural significance."
Asia treats lion dancing as a sport, complete with competitions and events. In the United States, lion dancing is not as popular, but can serve as nostalgia for the older generation. What will happen to lion dancing in the future outside of Asia?
"I think as long as there are passionate instructors like mine in the US, then there will still be lion dancing."