Lion dancing is hip

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am

A group of innovative young dancers have used hip hop music and funky steps to liven up lion dancing.

The lion dance is a staple of the Chinese festive calendar.

Dressed in traditional kung fu costume, dancers leap and sway to raucous Chinese music.

Led by Da Tou Fuo (big-headed Buddha), the performance reaches a climax when the lion plucks the vegetable bait from a pole.

In the jazzed-up version, members of the Fiery Dragon Lion Sport Association don a sleek metallic head instead of the rosy-cheeked Buddha-shaped mask. And hip hop music with a heavy beat is mixed with cymbals and gongs.

The fusion of a hip western street art and traditional Chinese dance has wooed passers-by and retailers alike at opening ceremonies.

'We are often invited to perform on the day a store opens. Many passers-by stop to watch our performance,' troupe member Dee Chan, 18, said.

'Many people have become tired of traditional lion dance performances, but they are impressed by our creative dance steps.'

The idea to spice up the lion dance with hip hop stunts came from the three masters who lead the troupe.

'I have some friends who are hip hop dancers,' said Terry Ip Pui-hong, 27, who co-founded the troupe with two other masters in 2003.

'Last year I watched one of their street performances and was captivated by their energetic and dynamic moves.

'Both hip hop and lion dance feature challenging stunts, and I thought mixing them would be a lot more fun.'

Master Hong, as Ip is often called, thought the unconventional venture could attract more young people to take up the traditional dance.

But fusing the two art forms hasn't been easy.

'To make the steps smoother, we spent a lot of time choreographing the moves,' said master Tobias Chong.

'The use of loud Chinese instruments like drums and cymbals had to fit in perfectly with the hip hop music. We only succeeded through trial and error.'

The dance group has more than 20 active members and is keen to attract more.

The association, the first in Hong Kong to introduce hip hop lion dancing, is often invited to perform overseas.

Famous luxury brands, such as Cartier and Dolce & Gabbana, have invited the group to launch shops.

Staging performances for multinational companies is a thrilling experience for the young members.

'Last year, we went to Shanghai to open new Dolce & Gabbana and Guess shops,' Dee said.

'I used to think that lion dances were sideline shows performed during Lunar New Year. I never thought that we could tour and perform for luxury brands.'

Hop to it

Hip hop lion dancers are trained in both Chinese and western dances.

The Fiery Dragon Lion Sport Association will hold free weekly (Saturday or Sunday) classes this summer.

Call 2465 7078, or write to Classes will be held at 14/F, Block B, Co-Tack Industrial Building, 17 Kin Fat Street, Tuen Mun.