The glittering yellow and red lion dancers moved to the beat of drums in celebration of the Chinese New Year during a performance.
Gary Goh, president of the Fresno State Lion Dance Club, and Wiun Han Tan, the vice president, brought their lion costume to life as music was tapped out by their fellow club members on traditional Chinese drums.
Goh and Tan began their intense training in lion dancing a year and a half ago. They learned from Malaysian senior citizens who passed the equipment down to them.
Even though Goh and Han Tan were friends before they became lion dancers, Goh said it took a lot of practice and trust to perfect the dance.
“You have to work with two different opinions and get together and work together to get the timing and music down—to perfect everything,” Goh said.
Being a part of the lion dance club as well as the Malaysian Student Organization (MSO) has helped Goh and his club members gain an appreciation for the culture.
“I didn’t know anything about lion dancing before I came to the U.S.,” he said.
The lion dance is part of the Chinese New Year traditions. The dance is a symbolic way to welcome the Chinese New Year and remove evil spirits. This year marks the year of the snake. Other traditions include dragon dances, which differ from lion dances, and the lantern festival. This year, the Chinese New Year begins on Sunday.
The club got its elaborate costumes from San Francisco. Goh said the costumes are rare to find, but that a few shops in San Francisco import them from Malaysia.
Nicholas Wong, adviser of the lion dance club, said the MSO began in 2006 and currently has 50 members. About 25 are active members. The Fresno State Lion Dance Club operates under the MSO and performs at many events and restaurants.
Kristi Yamamoto, who is in charge of celebrations and holidays for USU Productions, recruited the club to perform for the Chinese New Year. She decided to partner the Chinese New Year celebration with Bulldog Wednesday, which is the first Wednesday of every month.
A ninja competition followed the lion dance performance and students eating lunch at the USU were able to compete and win prizes.
The Fresno State Lion Dance Club will perform every night this weekend at 6:30 p.m. at the restaurant, Shanghai, at 4011 N. Blackstone Ave.