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Lion Dance - Welcome to the Chinese Lion Dance Page!


For class schedule, please check our classes page.

Looking for a lion dance performance for an event, special occcasion, school presentation, business, or any major civic event?

Contact us by emailing the following address below.


For more information on Chinese Lion Dance please check our culture page, or contact Leonard Han, or better yet, come visit and see what we do. See Tuesday and Friday evening classes offered in Lion Dance.

The team is taught by Leonard Han, a Lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University Monterey Bay. We are a group of diverse individuals from Monterey County and surrounding areas including the California State University Monterey Bay Lion Dance Club. New members (all ages) are welcome to apply.


Chinese Lion Dance - About Chinese Lion Dance



What is Chinese Lion Dance?

Lion Dance is a demanding, challenging performance art form, complete with martial art postures, dance movements, percussion rhythms and elaborate costumes, including the Lucky Lion and Happy Buddha.


Rich in meaning and dance content, teaching and training emphasizes fitness and performance skills from the classroom, to the playground, to the stage. A fun high energy form of exercise and ceremony, performers move to the beat of percussion drums, cymbals and gong. Two dancers perform under the Lion costume. One performs the lion head and one performs the lion’s body or tail; both perform together in movement as one.


Percussion rhythms that follow the Lion’s movements, require precision and unison. The use of loud percussion rhythms relate to the role of the lion in dispelling evil and bringing good luck. As an art form, lion dance re-creates things unseen and heard, giving form and substance to the intangible as one experiences the creative process at work.

Chinese New Year:


Lion dance is customarily performed during festive occasions such as celebration of the Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival. This marks the first day of the first month of the Lunar Calendar. Just as Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the western world, Chinese New Years or the Lunar New Year, is the most significant Chinese Holiday. The festival lasts two weeks and China’s State Council designates three days as a national holiday. The Lunar New Year stands as a formal “grand opening” to all tasks, and is celebrated with great reverence and ardor. It is a special time for visiting relatives and friends enjoying the many colorful festivities to send off the old year and usher in the new year which is hoped to be rich in harvest, happiness and success. Here in the west Lion Dance is also performed for the Grand Openings of businesses and many civic events throughout the year.



Chinese Lion Dance has a long history which began as a cultural interaction and trade between China and West Persia via the Silk Road. Cultural interaction grew through functions that took place in the royal palace welcoming guests from the west with dance and song. It is said that during these functions dancers often wore the masks of animals to perform and entertain guests. However since lions were not native to China, there were no costumes for lions. As traders traveling by way of the Silk Road brought lions as gifts together with lion trainers, the start of Lion Dance then began to take place in China. Other theories for forms of the dance stem from a combination of ritual folk dance and shamanism.

What Lion Dance has to offer:


Lion Dance takes both the performers and viewing audience off the beaten path down a road of history and culture into the depths of a unique dance performance, rich in story that reflects universal human experience and understanding.

Lion dance performance art is a magnet for both children and adults, capturing the imagination, expanding and reaching the depths of educational oppurtunities for students and the general public at a hands-on, sensory, and personal level. In this way, a meaningful connection made directly, broadens an understanding of the diverse world that we live in today. Lion Dance as we know it today has a continuous history of some one thousand years and continues to be an important symbol for not only ethnic Chinese, but is shared globally throughout the world today. Through ritual dance a meaningful vehicle for all is established not only as dance, but as music, physical fitness, orderliness, cooperation, personal responsibililty and acting out the drama of life itself. It is a true reflection of life and what successes may be gotten through cooperation, understanding, humanity, determination and devoted hard work.


The Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team is dedicated to understanding, preserving and sharing a rich tradition through education beginning with Class Training.

Students first begin with a historical and cultural backdrop of Chinese Lion Dance. Made up of a diverse Lion Dance Team emphasis is placed on the art of performing Lion Dance. Students first learn percussion rhythms (drum, cymbal, and gong) followed with dance training to animate and bring life to Lion Dance. This includes practice and training drills in martial arts postures, footwork, and movements which are later applied to a choreographed routine and then performed from the studio to the street or stage for major public events.


Chinese Lion Dance - The Team


Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team (Including CSUMB Chinese Lion Dance Club)

The Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team consists of a diverse group of students from both California State Universtiy Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and a larger Monterey county community. The team is taught and directed by Leonard Han, a Lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University Monterey Bay.

Introduction to a performance:

With elements of magic, entertainment and culture, the Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team directed by Leonard Han perform a Lion Dance celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year as well as the Grand Openings of businesses and many civic events. Martial art postures, dance movements, percussion rhythms and elaborate costumes make up the lion dance. Two performers animate and bring life to each lion whose precise dance moves help what is believed to ward off evil and bring good luck.

Mission and Philosophy

The mission for teaching Lion Dance is the pursuit of excellence in sharing the art of Lion Dance and Chinese culture, promoting Arts and Education, Multiculturalism and diversity through Community School Programs and Community Events throughout the Monterey Bay Central Coast Area and beyond.

Workshop Objectives and Outcomes

Benefits a workshop offers:

• Development: Cultivate an understanding for Lion Dance with insights into Chinese Culture.
Workshop will provide a backdrop of the arts and cultural of China. Video, DVD presentations and discussion on the arts and culture of China, including examples of Chinese Lion Dance will be pre-viewed, and then followed up with weekly training sessions in the art of performing Lion Dance.

• Skills: Students learn skills in the use of the Lion Dance costume, dance moves, and musical instruments. Workshop includes instruction and training beginning with percussion rhythms, foundation stances, dance drills, dance techniques, and more in the development of Lion Dance.

• Ethics, Values and Guidelines - Spirit of the Lion: Learning to enhance and cultivate inner self values with the Eight Fundamental principles of lion dance (loyalty, righteousness, endurance, bravery, wisdom, sincerity, harmony, and courtesy/respect) are emphasized in developing the values in Lion Dance. Emphasis is placed on team work, personal responsibility, respect for ones-self and others, self discipline and connectivity in a diverse community.

• Creative Expression: Includes hands on experience in the art of performance for public events. Students apply their skills and training toward self-expression and personal growth.