Thursday marks the start of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep, and some Fresno State students part of the university’s Lion Dance Club will be celebrating the holiday with a roar.
Each year, the Chinese lunar calendar assigns an animal symbol in every 12-year cycle. Although 2015 is the Year of the Sheep, the lions always take center stage during Chinese New Year celebrations. The Fresno State Lion Dance Club has received numerous invitations from different venues to perform its traditional dance that has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years.
The lion, which symbolizes power and wisdom, is said to be able to chase away evil spirits and bring good fortune. Zheng Hao Loh, president of the dance club that is part of the Malaysia Student Organization, said that since the club was initiated 10 years ago, it has been performing at various events for restaurants and during special occasions.
“We mainly perform during the Chinese New Year to celebrate prosperity and chase away the evil spirits,” Loh said.
The club has also performed on campus during events such as International Culture Night and International Education Week. This year, the club has been invited to perform at more than eight events.
Loh said lately the club is getting more recognition because the style of dance appeals to viewers.
“The style of dance we perform involves more acrobatic moves and a more lively pattern that conveys a hidden storyline that can be customized to any special occasions,” he said.
“It is very exciting and entertaining. Fresno State has a lot of great opportunities to get exposed to diverse and rich cultures,” said Matthew Dansereau, a Fresno State student.
The lion dance consists of the dancers and musicians playing a large Chinese drum with two wooden mallets, a gong and one or more sets of cymbals.
The club has trained for years to be able to perform at the level it does, Loh said. Its objective: for more people to know about Chinese culture.
“Our goal for performing lion dance is to keep the tradition alive in the Central Valley and also a way for cultural exchange experiences that adds into the diversity of the community,” Loh said.
Jamie Lu, an international transfer student from China, said, “I am delighted to be able to see lion dance in Fresno. I hope that more people will be interested in our culture and would like to know more about it.”