An integral component of the traditional culture of China, lion dancing is a discipline that is ingrained into the collective memories of successive generations of Chinese. With the recent Chinese New Year, streets throughout the country are enveloped in the ear-splitting drum and cymbal tracks performed to the explosive flurries of color of the lion’s papier-mâché and fabric bodies.
However, in China’s push to modernize in recent decades, many traditional practices have been threatened with extinction, lion dancing being no exception. In response, a small but vocal number of lion dance practitioners have helmed the push to bring lion dancing back to the forefront of the public imagination.
Among them, Jerry Keung of Hong Kong-based Keung’s Dragon & Lion Dance Team has led its rejuvenation among the city’s youth via a strategy of adaptation, not only campaigning for better training environments and hosting large exhibitions to increase public awareness, but also engaging in groundbreaking collaborations with the likes of adidas and A Bathing Ape to modernize the thousand-year-old art form’s image. We caught up with Keung in the video above to delve into the history of the discipline, as well as to find out what inroads are being made into its revitalization.
Those living in Hong Kong can check out performances by Keung’s Dragon & Lion Dance Team at a the free “The Blessing of Dragon and Lion” exhibition at Times Square, ongoing until February 28.