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Lion Dance brings good luck and prosperity

1 March 20240 comments

Helen Truong tells of her role in one of Melbourne’s great multicultural traditions – the annual Lunar New Year Lion Dance.

My most favourite festivity is Lunar New Year, as it is filled with drums, cymbals, lions and dragons. 

I’m part of the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne, a not-for-profit group that promotes and celebrates Chinese culture. And for 15 days this February we celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year.

For me, this means performing with our Lion Dance team.

I officially joined CYSM in 2018 after the group’s 50 year anniversary performance. My nephew started lion dance when he was nine, so I thought it would be good to join and do something with him.

The team trains every Sunday for three hours and this ramps up with a mid-week training around October in the lead up to Chinese New Year which is the busiest time of the year for us.

Lion dancing requires discipline and time invested in training. Being physically fit is a bonus, but not a requirement to join. The training provided sets you up for strength, stamina, endurance and flexibility.    

We are not a martial arts club but the stances used for the Lion Dance are derived from Kung Fu,

so it forms part of our training

Established in 1968 the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne (CYSM) Lion Dance Team, like other Lion Dance troupes, has brought the art of lion dancing, originally from China, and shared it with the local Chinese community and the broader community.

Over the years our team has taken part in numerous performances and contributed to many events and festivals to help spread the art of lion dancing across the country.

We have also developed irreplaceable friendships and bonds with a number of other Lion Dance troupes and community groups from all across the world.CYSM aims to help teach, nurture, spread and carry on the tradition of passing on the art from generation to generation. And it creates a home for those who want to be part of something special, not just a Lion Dance team but a Lion Dance family.

Personally, I have made a lot of friends, old and young, through the group and we have various social gatherings during the year.

For us as Australians of Chinese descent, the Lion Dance has great historical and cultural significance.

Originally, the dance was a way of bringing good luck, good fortune and prosperity to those for whom it’s performed, and we are carrying on that tradition.

The dance brings the strength and yang energy of the lion plus the addition of the drum to scare or clear away stale or evil spirits to allow fresh offerings and positive energies to arrive.

A lively lion provides life and positive energy to a host or establishment and the extent to which a lion shows life and energy, is a representation of the year to come for the particular host who has requested the blessing.

Each year CYSM and several other lion dance teams participates in the Bendigo Easter Fair, which also features a Dragon Dance.

In 2019, Bendigo unveiled the world’s longest dragon, Dai Gum Loong. It was really exciting and fun to be a part of that.

And, this year, were are celebrating the Year of the Dragon. People born in the year of the dragon are usually charismatic, intelligent, confident, powerful and naturally lucky and gifted.

Previous Years of the Dragon include: 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964 and 1952.

Helen Truong is a Business Development manager with Thrive Refugee Enterprise, a provider of microfinance to refugee entrepreneurs.See a short video on the Lion Dance:

Longer version: