Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chinese Lion Dance - Kensico Dam Plaza - Video

Chinese Lion dance performed at the Asian-American Heritage Celebration at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla (Westchester County, New York)

Apologies for the poor quality, but it was taken with an inexpensive Kodak. We happened upon the festival quite by accident, and I was thrilled - I'd never seen any of the traditional dances performed live. Since time is short (as usual) I've resorted to pasting a brief bit of info adapted from Wikipedia. I have found a great site which I linked below and intend to check out later in the week.

During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guilds and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of "cai ching" (採青), meaning "plucking the greens", a quest by the 'lion' to pluck the auspicious green normally 'vegetables' like lettuce which in Chinese called 'cái'(菜)that sound like 'cái'(财)(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a red envelope containing money; either hung high or just put on a table in front of the premises. The "lion" will dance and approach the greens and the envelope like a curious cat, to "eat the green" and "spit" it out (in all directions, to spread the prosperity) but keeping the red envelope. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business, and the troupe is rewarded with the red envelope.

There are different styles of lion costumes and dances; my guess is that the one I filmed is the Southern Chinese Lion. While real lions are not native to China, they arrived as gifts from rulers in other countries via the Silk Road.

For more information, I'll be checking out this fascinating and comprehensive site:  Chinese Lion Dancers


  1. They are neat to watch. What a neat piece of inspiration.

  2. I love the video! Really interesting post.

  3. We had a great angle to view this. Fun afternoon.

  4. I've always wondered about the story behind the lion dance! And I had no idea that red envelopes were involved in the dance. =) Beautiful vid!

  5. Oh gosh, I'm fascinated to learn about this - I used to visit "China Town" to witness the celebration, when I lived in London. I recall the children hanging out of upstairs windows, dangling their rods of fruit and envelopes over the street below - but I never knew the story behind it. What a lovely custom, you certainly look to have had a wonderful day!