Lunar New Year: The art of the lion dance

Lunar New Year: The art of the lion dance

Over a billion people will celebrate the start of Lunar New Year this Saturday. Customs practiced leading up to and during the 15-day period known as Spring Festival, include setting off fireworks to ward off evil spirits and eating dumplings, CNN says.

The most recognized celebration though -- and the act most closely associated with the lunar new year around the world -- remains that of the iconic lion dance. In Chinese communities from New York to Shanghai, colorful lion dances are performed to ensure an auspicious year ahead.

For members of Kwok's Kung Fu and Dragon Lion dance team in Hong Kong, Chinese New Year is their busiest season, with dancers training more than 8 hours at a time and performing at 40 events over the two-week holiday.

"You have to work hard and practice hard," says Master Andy Kwok, who has spent the past two decades instructing the dance team's 500 members past and present. Beyond Chinese New Year, the team competes in various competitions in Hong Kong and Asia, and performs at special occasions such as new business openings and weddings.

Based on kung fu techniques, the art of the lion dance is rooted in both discipline and form. But bringing the playful lion to life, requires a degree of artistry and playacting.

"When you go inside the lion head, you have to think like the lion, not like a human," Kwok explains. "You have to know the character of the lion, blink like the lion, be hungry like the lion."

In the video above, watch the main two characters of the Southern-style of the Chinese lion dance demonstrate movements. The monk is played by Tony Yuen, the lion's head is played by Reeve Chan and the lion's tail is played by Steven Cheng.