Chinese Lion Dance will be part of Living Skies Come Alive

• By Kevin Weedmark

Plans just keep growing for the Living Skies Come Alive International Fireworks Competition at Moosomin Lake on the August long weekend.
The two-day fireworks competition is going international for the first time this year, with Canada taking on China in the competition.
Canada will shoot off fireworks Saturday, August 5 and China will go on Sunday, August 6 with a show that includes types of fireworks never before seen in Canada.
The Chinese company FireShow will be competing for China on Sunday, August 6, and CanFire Pyrotchnics from Winnipeg will perform for Canada on Saturday, August 5.
Before the Chinese fireworks show on Sunday, there will be another first for Living Skies Come Alive. The Chinese Cultural Society of Saskatchewan will put on a traditional Chinese lion dance.
The Lion Dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture and other Asian countries in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume.
The lion dance is performed during the Chinese New Year and at special celebrations.
In a lion dance, two performers are inside each lion costume. The performers replicate moves that are part of Chinese martial arts.
The participants in the Lion Dance at Moosomin Lake will be students of the Chung Wah Kung Fu School in Regina.
The lion dancers with Chung Wah are accomplished Kung Fu students who perform at a variety of events, such as the annual Chinese New Year celebrations in Regina, and the China Night fundraiser, an event at which the Chinese Cultural Society raises funds for the Hospitals of Regina Foundation.
The Living Skies Come Alive Fireworks Competion has grown over the years to be a major event at Moosomin Regional Park.
In addition to the fireworks, there are all sorts of events over the course of the weekend.
The event brings in between 6,000 and 7,000 people each year. Last year there was a paid attendance of 7,153 over the weekend, and the committee hopes the international angle will attract more people this year.
Tim Mrazek is an instructor with Chung Wah Kung Fu.
“The Lion Dance is an important part of traditional Chinese culture,” he said. “It has been around for a long time and the lion is a symbol of positive things. It is used to bring blessings to people and to the celebrations that tie us together.
“The lion dance in the traditional culture can be used for any important celebration from a grand opening to a community celebration to an important milestone in a person or group of people’s lives.
“It serves two main ideas.
“One is a unifying element and brings people together and reminds us of how we are connected and that we all share the same hopes and aspirations, and there is always strength in numbers, and when we are able to cooperate and work together we will achieve much more.
“The other part is a reminder of the morals of what human culture stands for. It doesn’t matter what cultural background a person comes from.
“The symbol of the lion represents the best of who we can be, and that is the deeper meaning behind it as a modern folk art or sport than most people’s perception of it as entertainment.
“It is gloriously entertaining—it is great fun for the whole family.
“It is very dynamic and exciting. It uses live instruments, specifically percussion drums, cymbals and gongs that are part of the traditional music.
“The lion dance’s function is in part entertainment and to make people happy and to add to the festive celebration, and then the symbolic part is a wish for good things to come.”
Chung Wah plans to bring a pair of lions and a group of musicians to Moosomin Lake.
“We will bring out a pair of lions. I am not sure which ones we are bringing out but they will choose a meaning that will be appropriate for the type of event. This is a fireworks spectacle and is bringing different cultures and people from a wide area together, so we will try and embrace that. We will have a pair of lions and the lion dancers, and we will have instruments, so there will probably be a team 10 performers coming out there.”
He said he is looking forward to bringing the Lion Dance to an area of the province where it has never before been performed.
“It is certainly going to be a lot of fun. People who have never seen a lion dance will certainly enjoy it. You hear the music, you feel the rhythm of the music and see the lion move, and even if you don’t understand the symbolic story of what the lion is doing, you can still see he is doing these movements—it is searching, it is looking for something, it is trying to overcome an obstacle, it is working to achieve something.”
Mrazek said the performers are all accomplished Kung Fu students.
“Lion dancers are traditionally part of Chinese martial arts,” he said. “The real roots of the lion dance are intimately tied with Chinese marshal arts, evolving from both a military as well as civilian or folk tradition, so both those elements are fused into the dance. Classically the stronger kung fu students will be the ones that will be appointed to go play the lion because their technique needs to be very strong.
“The idea is that the stronger the person can dance and the more spirit they can put in their dance then the more effective the lion dance is.”
Mrazek said the performers have performed the Lion Dance around the province, and are looking forward to performing at the fireworks competition at Moosomin Lake.
“We have been around for more than 30 years, so we have had a good chance to meet a lot of different folks from around the province. Some of our members haven’t been to Moosomin Lake before and are looking forward to seeing it, and some have been there before—they have roots or family in that area—and they’re looking forward to performing there.”

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August 2017

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