Monday, February 22, 2010

Lion Dance

On Sunday I went to the Unitarian Universalist church because they had a local Chinese Arts group performing a traditional Lion Dance as a way to help us celebrated Chinese New Year. I have attended the UU off and on for 6 or more years now, and it is always a good space. I had run into the minister the weekend before, and she had told me about the dancers, so I passed the word on to a couple friends and we all went. 

We were sitting in the last pew, which really isn't all that far back given that it's a small church. Even so, when the performers began playing the drums, my whole body and the pew under me vibrated. The drums were large kettle-type drums, played with solid wooden sticks in a highly stylized way, complete with poses struck by the drummers at the end of each sequence. Then the dancers came out, with two people (presumably men) in each costume, one working the head with its eyes and mouth that opened and shut, and the other making the rear, somehow keeping the short tail wagging, and supporting the front man in lifts to make the lions rear up. 

It was a great time. Just the drums alone and the way they vibrated my whole body lifted my mood and filled my cup, so to speak. I need to be around more drumming, more live, feel the sound waves bounce off and through my body drumming. The lions, one silver and one gold, were fabulous and funny, working through the crowd, posing for pictures and video, doing tricks, and being humorous, tricksterish, and full of good energy. 

It was a bit of a letdown when the service moved on into more churchy things, though the homily was about how people develop how to do something and then study the science of why it works, and that Chinese New Year involves the color red, drums, fireworks, loud noises, dancing, feasting, and lots of lights to lift the spirits and drive old bad energy away. It works, and now scientists are finding reasons why it works. But really, we can just experience it and get the benefits without knowing all the science behind them. 

I think that is a great message: just do what feels right, and let the reasons why it works come out later. I think it definitely applies to drumming. I need to go be around drumming, to drum, to dance, or just sit and soak up the sound if that is all I am up for.  

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