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A Day of Lion Dancing Across Vancouver Schools for Lunar New Year

Updated: Mar 31

On February 9, 2024, we teamed up with Bak Mei Kung Fu, another Vancouver lion dance team, to share our culture and showcase the art of lion dancing to students across three East Vancouver schools. For Chinese heritage students, it was a reminder of their traditions and the importance of preserving this aspect of their identity in a multicultural context. For students from other backgrounds, it was an opportunity to appreciate and understand a culture different from their own.

Lion dance at an elementary school in East Vancouver

Hastings Elementary – a school lion dance that was “like a concert”

The first stop was Hastings Elementary. With a gymnasium filled with a sea of excited children, two lions—one from Chau Luen Athletics and one from Bak Mei—danced to life, playing with the young crowd. Gueshly Masson, who was on percussion, described the show as “like a concert” as the kids screamed and jumped in joy, lunging their hands forward to feel the lion.

Instructor Andrew performs a lion dance at Templeton Secondary school

Following this performance, we made our way to Templeton Secondary, a place close to Andrew Wong’s heart as it holds special memories from his teenage years. We began the show in the main foyer, engaging with students along the performance route that ended in the cafeteria.

High school lion dance

Here, the principal and vice-principal held up fishing poles with lettuce and a red packet dangling at the end for the lions. After “chewing” the lettuce and showering the crowd with it to symbolize good fortune, many students stayed behind for photos, capturing memories for the yearbook.

Lion dance for Templeton High School principals Akhtar Raza Mirani and Darren Gock

"Coming back to Templeton Secondary felt really nostalgic. But we didn’t just bring back old memories; we also made new ones,” said Andrew. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to share my culture with the younger generation. I hope we showed how important it is to keep traditions alive.”

Certified lion dance coach Kyle makes his return to Maquinna Elementary

Our final school visit took us to Maquinna Elementary, where Kyle Hui once walked the halls as a student. As he proudly led the lion dance for this one, the principal and a select few students actively participated by holding the fishing poles with lettuce for the lion to “chew” and–you guessed it–shower the audience with it.

Following the dance, Kyle answered the children's curious questions, such as “What are the lions made out of?” and “How can you still hear with all the loud noise from the drums?”

Lion dance at school gym

One of the day's most touching moments was also at Maquinna Elementary, where the kids dedicated a special performance of their school anthem to Kyle–and he sang along with them, not a single word forgotten.

Kyle Hui singing Maquinna Elementary School Anthem

Before leaving, the day wouldn’t have been complete without Kyle recreating a childhood photo of himself with the lion at Maquinna Elementary. Unfortunately, the original mural had been painted over, so we had to make do with a similar mural in a different location of the school. Not the same, but close enough!

Why we perform lion dances for schools

As enjoyable as the performances are for the kids, their real value is the educational opportunity they present. These school visits act as a bridge connecting young minds to rich Chinese culture and heritage.

Before each performance, Kyle took a moment to share the history and significance of lion dancing. He explained the legend of the mythical “Nian” beast and the tradition of the lion spitting out lettuce to symbolize good fortune and prosperity for the year to come. At Maquinna Elementary, in particular, Kyle also got to share a bit of his personal journey.

Bak Mei Canada and Chau Luen Athletics prepare for school lion dance performance

It is our hope that, through these displays of tradition and storytelling, we can foster a deeper respect for diversity among the students, whether they are of Chinese descent or from other cultural backgrounds.

As Bak Mei’s lion dance instructor Kevin Soo puts it, "Bringing lion dance to schools with Chau Luen Athletics was a meaningful way for us to give back to the community. It gave the kids a chance to experience the Lunar New Year because not everyone has the opportunity to participate in these festivities. Our performances were a small way to bridge that gap, bringing a piece of the celebration directly to them."

Bak Mei and Chau Luen lion dance percussion

Although our school performances concluded at Maquinna Elementary, the day's journey of spreading joy and culture continued with one more lion dance at Ronald McDonald House. This show, aimed at bringing smiles to the faces of seriously ill children and their families, is a reminder of why we share our cultural heritage and was a perfect way to wrap up that day’s worth of community performances.

Want a lion dance show or workshop for your school? Ask us about our discounted rates. We’ll work with you to plan a demonstration tailored to your class’s learning goals so it’s both entertaining and educational.


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