Girls' lion dance team earns acclaim by inheriting traditional performance art in S China's Guangzhou

(People's Daily Online) 09:50, March 10, 2023

On the evening of March 3, members of a girls' lion dance team were practicing moves of a lion dance, a traditional Chinese performance art, at a community activity center for elderly people in the Baiyun district of Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province.

Photo shows members of the "Hexingtang" girls' lion dance team in a training session. (Photos/Radio the Great Bay)

In less than four years since its establishment, the girls' lion dance team has won many awards at lion dance competitions.

The "Hexingtang" lion dance troupe was established in the 1980s. According to Zhang Zheliang, an instructor of the lion dance troupe, before 2018, the troupe was composed of male performers only. In 2018, six girls, who demonstrated their talent for lion dancing, were admitted to the troupe.

Zhong Ziying, who is in her third year of middle school, is one of the team's best lion dancers. Zhong is the first female in her family to learn the lion dance. Other girls on the team said they've been watching male performers practicing and performing since their childhood but none of them had expected that they themselves could become lion dance performers one day.

An instructor trains members of the "Hexingtang" girls' lion dance team. (Photos/Radio the Great Bay)

"The girls went out to put on performances from one household to another on the first day of the Chinese New Year of 2019," Zhang recalled, saying that the girls were not acknowledged by the local villagers at first. Later, Zhang and Yu Weizhao, also an instructor of the troupe, decided to establish a girls' lion dance team.

"The girls had been practicing hard. Some villagers said they couldn't make a difference, but they still carried on," said Zhang.

In July 2021, the team began taking part in competitions, initially hoping to broaden their horizons. They won first place in the category of young performers during the competition held in Baiyun district, defeating other troupes composed of boys. Later, they took part in a competition for teenagers in the city and won first prize in their category and the prize for the best music.

With these achievements, the girls' lion dance team finally gained the villagers’ support.

Yu said the team once had over 20 members, and now there are fewer than 20, with the oldest one being 18 years old and the youngest one just 6 years old. Some girls quit because they couldn't withstand the intensity of the training. "Those who have stayed are the best," said Yu.

The "Hexingtang" girls' lion dance team gives a performance. (Photos/Raido the Great Bay)

Speaking of training, Yu said, "I don't set easier training goals for them just because they are girls. I told them if they want to do this, they must do it well, and if they think they can't do it, then they can just leave." He also said he provides tailored training plans for the girls and organizes training for them in a strict and scientific manner.

The girls think the training sessions are arduous. One girl named Liu Qiqi said she cried because she felt exhausted after practicing the horse stance for a long time, adding that she had thought about quitting but somehow she attended the next training session.

Yu has been working to recruit new members for the team. He said many parents took their children to him, asking about the recruitment plans and some people made phone calls to him from elsewhere. He said he will let the children take part in the training for one week to see if they can go further.

The girls' lion dance team has taken part in a number of competitions and performed at many events. "The Culture, Radio, TV and Tourism Bureau of Guangzhou shows support to us as it plans to build our training ground into a base for the inheritance of the lion dance and a site for cultural tourism," said Zhang.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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