History of Lion Dancing

History of Penn Lions


Lion dance is a traditional chinese art form dating back 5000 years and brings good luck and fortune to audience members. Most popular during Lunar New Year celebrations, lion dancing is also performed at weddings, business openning, school festivals, and community events. A typical performance features lions overcoming a challenge or solving a puzzle to ultimately cai qing, or pick the greens. After eating the lettuce, which symbolizes fortune, the lion throws the greens at the audience, spreading good wishes for the future. The accompanying drum, often referred to as the "heart beat of the lion" leads the cymbals and gong to add excitement and flair to the performance.

Penn Lions was founded at the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 with the mission to learn, teach and perform the traditional art of lion dance in and around the Greater Philadelphia area. Since then, the troupe has grown to include 20 students with performances year round with performances in mid-atlantic region. In addition to regular performances on UPenn's Campus, Penn Lions has also performed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Georgetown University, Parx Casino, and numerous local weddings and celebrations. In 2010, 2013, and 2016 Penn Lions won the East Coast Intercollegiate Lion dance competition, and hosted the event in 2012, 2014, and 2017 with college from along the east coast attending. To date, Penn Lions has given over 200 performances and workshops.