Nieuws - 26 januari 2012

Lion dance in Utrecht

It's been quite a few years since the last time I watched the lion dance in China. I was very happy that I could see it again in Utrecht last Sunday, the New Year's Eve in the lunar calendar.

It was the only moment they deserved the applause.
The cats-and-dogs rain of that morning almost ruled out my trip to Utrecht. Thanks to my strong curiosity, finally I stuck with my plan and arrived in Utrecht on time. Oddly enough, the sky cleared up soon after I walked out of the Hoog Catharijne; I guessed probably that day was favored by the Chinese God of Wealth. A huge crowd had been waiting at the Jacobskerkhof when I got there. The performance started on time at 14.00 with the drumbeat.
Among the Europeans who watched this kind of exotic show for the first time, I felt like a connoisseur of Chinese traditional art: to be honest the skills of those dancers was merely adequate to bluff the western spectators. But at that moment I felt very grateful to see the Kung-Fu footwork of the dancers, hear the drum and gong, and sniff the nostalgic smell of the fireworks.
The climax came when they lit up a fifty-meter long firecracker. By a gust of wind, the thick haze of smoke blew right towards the people on the leeward side; but we all seemed to enjoy the feeling of being besieged. When the smoke was gone, the lion dance corps led the audience to RASA, the world cultural center nearby, for the following indoor celebration programs.
One player quite stood out from others since he was the only blond-hair: he's Ivo, a 22-year-old Dutch who began lion-dance learning eight years ago. Though not a big surprise, it'm still happy to see more and more people integrating in Chinese culture. According to one organizer, the only pity of this year was the reduction of celebration programs and diminution of the typical-Chinese decorations due to the budget cuts.
But it's a nagging problem around the whole of Holland, isn't it? It's not a problem to me since I only know the happiness doesn't come from the content, but the contentment.
Finally I wish you: kung hei fat choi, happy New Year, the Year of Dragon!
Vid of the week: The final step of a complete lion-dance performance is the 'lettuce-eating' ceremony since 'lettuce' has a similar pronunciation to 'make money' in Chinese.