Lion Dancing – A simple, but unique term given for something that envelops so much in history and is still with us today. By the sight and sound of it, you can picture a street scene with colorful figures with children frolicking around while elders look on with bright smiles and gleaming eyes. What is this Lion Dance that creates such beauty? It is a traditional Chinese dance in which the dancers are masked and costumed to resemble the mythical creature named Naan who has the features of a mighty lion. They bring luck wherever they go and are a blessing for a new year. Also, this beautiful dance wards off bad spirits that may surround you by using the shining mirror on the lion’s forehead and the loudness from the drum and cymbal instruments. The mirror reflects the appearance of the spirit; which scares them away because of the negative energy.

There are many types of lion dance. Here at the YESS Community Center inside the Orlando Fashion Square mall near JC Penney, the Orlando Young Lions practice the lion dance style of Southern China. There they learn the potential of Lion Dance and fine Chinese music and arts. Some may learn the drums, gong, and cymbals while others may learn the role of the lion itself. Depending on the desire of the individual, he or she may learn whatever that may interest them.

A typical practice for the team includes conditioning, practicing on whatever the individual needs to work on, small breaks, and going over their performances. Conditioning is the key to unlocking the treasure chest of lion dancing – it is essential in the art of lion dance. In order to perform well, the individual must be strong overall. Stamina and power in arms keeps the lion up and looking alive. They also keep the drums, gong, and symbol beating lively. Strength in the back and legs helps keep the tail from collapsing and having a lump in the middle of the lions back. Everyone knows the term “practice makes perfect”. It is true. Working on anything that is struggling in the beginning will lead to success. Small breaks let everyone get to know each other and regenerate lost energy. Finally, going over performances helps fix small errors which will then be used to make the next performances better and better.

While being educated about Chinese culture and traditions, Orlando Young Lions build friendships and cooperation. For one thing, you may have never even seen the people in our group before. But that is okay. We give everyone a warm welcome and treat one another with respect. Building friendships is a key component to a team, which leads to cooperation. Basically it is a cause and effect situation. No friendships results in no cooperation. With friendships, we have cooperation. In Orlando Young Lions, our long lasting friendships can easily benefit our cooperation as a team. Age does not matter here. We have members of all ages. And don’t worry; if you need more support on your part, we are here to aid you!

“It is always great to learn something new, especially with your friends. This program helped me discover more about my culture too. I’m glad that I am part of Orlando Young Lions and love coming every Saturday. I’m also grateful for my teammates and staff.”

Katie Liang, 12 years old

Katie Liang is a a honor roll student at Southwest middle school with a GPA of 4.0. She is also a 6th grader who is an advance belt in taekwondo. Katie plays the violin and piano as well. Finally, Katie loves participating in the Orlando Young Lions program and other community service organizations.

“I look forward to every Saturday because I get to see my friends and practice what I love most! Everyone is kind and I always have fun. Although at first it was a bit intimidating the first couple times I was there but now I would say we are one big happy family here in Orlando Young Lions!”

Sarah Tse, 14 years old

Sarah Tse is a 14 year old 8th grade student who attends Gotha Middle School. She is an honor roll student that plays guitar, piano, and dance. She has participated in the MPA and All County guitar performances and received the highest scores. She also loves fitness and a passion for baking all sorts of various sweets. She is a dedicated member of the Orlando Young Lions and an active member for several non-profit organizations.