​In high-pole lion dance, Vietnamese women prove they match male peers

Lion dance and dragon dance are traditional dancing techniques usually done in festive celebrations in Vietnam, such as shop grand opening or the Lunar New Year festival, which began last week. As their names suggest, lion dancers, donning lion costumes, mimic the movements of the animal to bring good luck and fortune, whereas dragon dancers manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along its length. Dancers are usually kung fu practitioners so as to afford the strength and skill needed for the performances, which explains why female followers of the techniques are rare. Every dancer has to practice a hundred times to master the skill. Photo: Tuoi Tre Tu Anh Duong, a lion and dragon dance school based in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, stands out as the only of its kind to have both the male and female troupes. The female team consists of 22 members, with the youngest just turning ten, and the oldest being 35 years old. While all team members are capable of performing both dragon and lion dances, five of them are Vietnamese record holders in high-pole and pole-climbing lion dances, the two most difficult techniques. These high-pole lion dancers are usually skillful practitioners of the kung fu style Meihua Quan, literally known as Plum Blossom Boxing, which allows them to perform jaw-dropping stunts on a row of poles, standing one to three meters high and located 0.7-1.8 meters apart from one another. In the pole-climbing… [Read full story]


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