Livingston Chinese Culture

Celebrating Chinese Heritage and Culture through Education, Program Activities and Community Service

Dragon Dance

The Dragon Dance The history of the Dragon Dance can be dated back to the Han Dynasty (180-230 AD) in ancient China and, like the lion dance, plays an important part in Chinese culture. The Dragon itself has always been regarded as a Sacred creature, symbolizing power, courage, righteousness and dignity amongst others. For this reason, the Chinese show great respect towards the dragon, and have always referred themselves as being Descendants of the Dragon as a sign of ethnic identity.

The dance signifies the end of the year and welcoming a new start, driving away evil spirits, bringing good luck and fortune to the people. The Dragon Dance has always been a great spectacle to watch and is usually performed on big occasions or grand openings, especially during the festive Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) celebrations.

The Dance A Dragon Dance requires many dancers due to its sheer size and length. The number of dancers vary depending on a number of factors, including human resources, financial power, skills and the space available. The size can range from the recommended 112 feet (9 people) or more. The same musical instruments for lion dancing are used to accompany the dragon’s movements, which includes the drum, cymbals and a gong.

In order to make a Dragon Dance successful and entertaining, the dancers must properly coordinate their movements with each other, thus correct timing is crucial to avoid tangling up or falling over. A mistake from any one person can disrupt other dancers as this creates a “ripple effect”, which would spoil the performance. Equally important is the precise timing between the Pearl, Dragon’s head and the tail. The Pearl initiates the pattern of moves for the Dragon’s head and body, whilst the tail keeps in time with the head movements.

The movements are based on footwork and hand coordination to execute different combination of patterns. Each team member must be able to leap, crouch and change the direction and pace of movements, requiring discipline, stamina and a substantial amount of practice.