Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lion Dancer

It is tradition at China Camp that during Closing Ceremonies, the 6th graders perform a lion dance. They practice all week, with some kids wearing the costume and other playing cymbals and drums. Katherine has looked forward to this since her first year at camp, when she was 4 years old. This year, her last year as a camper, she was finally old enough and she could not wait!

After the first day of camp Katherine announced that there would be three different lions this year and that she was to be the head of one. (One of her orphanage friends was the tail.) The dance is long and lively and exhausting to dance. So dancers work in teams, with one pair dancing for a while and then handing off the lion costume to a new pair. At camp, one team "woke" the lions and another danced the lions up and down the aisles. Katherine was on the second team.

The dance begins with drums.
Katherine and her team crouched in the aisle waiting their turn,
Three lions were ceremonially "wakened" and made their way down a set of steps and into the aisle, where they were passed off to their new dancers. First an orange lion...
...and then a black one...
...and finally a yellow one with familiar legs.
The lions pretended to take naps and were awakened by a dancer with a ceremonial sword.
 And then they just danced,
 twisting and turning,
 blinking their eyes and opening and closing their mouths,
 teasing and flirting,
working the adoring crowd.
 It was beautiful and gloriously loud, an ancient Chinese tradition enthusiastically embraced by young girls on the other side of the world. This was a piece of Katherine's Chinese heritage that she can forever claim, an experience she will never forget. She was once a lion dancer!
 The lions were handed off to the first teams for the ending of the dance. They bowed and lay down to rest. The drums quieted into silence and it was over.
Another year of China Camp came to an end. It was amazing!

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