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Chinese University Begins Offering Competitive Dragon, Lion Dance Course

In case anyone is interested, Zhejiang University in China is now offering a course on dragon and lion dances.

The school, located in Zhejiang Province, is offering the class as an elective sports course, according to the China Global Television Network, or CGTN.

Xu Jingyan, a junior at the school, is enthusiastic about the course, telling the news source: "At first, I was only looking for a class [that was] different and fun. After I took it, I was surprised to find that we have well-equipped props, and the movement is just like the dragon dance I saw on TV."

According to Women of China, the news site of the All-China Women's Federation, 170 students, both male and female, applied for the new course, which was 20 more than the school originally anticipated.

Dragon and lion dances are a part of many festive celebrations in China and are said to bring good fortune and prosperity to the people performing them and the places in which they are performed. Some troupes train year-round in order to perfect their performances, which emulate the movements of lions and fantastical dragons.

Jiang Kai, the course’s only teacher, explains that the class teaches competitive lion and dragon dance styles. "Compared with traditional folk lion and dragon dance, the competitive style is much more standardized and generally performed indoors. Every movement has strict standards for judging." According to Jiang, this makes the dances more comparable to sporting events.

Jiang studied both martial arts and dragon dance at Beijing Sports University, and explains how his teammates would drop out of the classes because of the grueling competitive performances. "More than 30 people joined my university’s dragon and lion dance team, but only eight stayed till graduation. Because we had a lot of competitions, and many could not bear the hardships and quit." He added, "The dragon dance is not easy, and many people give up."

He went on to explain that the demanding traditional dance is also a test of a team’s ability to cooperate and work in unison. "It takes at least ten people to perform a dragon dance, and two for a lion dance. If anyone does not show up at class, other people will be affected."

Dragon dancing is also a time-honored tradition in Vietnam, especially during Tet and the Mid-autumn festival. Check out Saigoneer's recent feature on Dung, a young man helping to honor and preserve one of Vietnam's most famous holiday traditions.

[Photo via Phuket News]

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