Arts & Culture

Meet the Lion!

Get the behind-the-scenes scoop on the traditional Chinese Lion Dance.

Visit Dallas Staff
Posted on Jan 26, 2017

The Crow Collection of Asian Art's Chinese New Year Festival features a full day of traditional festivities, including the spectacular lion dance. Lucas Guerra of Lee's White Leopard Kung Fu gives us the insider's view (literally – Lucas performs in the two-person lion dance team that dance wearing the lion costume):

Lion is fortune

Lions bring good luck and fortune, and specific elements of the dance have special meanings – see if you can spot some of these Saturday:

  • Waking a sleeping lion means we need him to go spread good fortune!
  • When lion eats a head of lettuce, he tears it in his mouth and spits it out – lettuce represents money that the lion "presents" it to people. If you get hit with the lettuce that's REALLY good luck!
  • Lion enters facing forward and exits by backing up – that signifies respect and honor for the place.
  • Martial arts are a big part of the culture and tradition, and many of the specific lion movements and stances are also seen in kung fu.


The costumes require lots of care! They are regularly inspected for fabric tears that need to be fixed and many details require paint touch ups. The mane itself is like a comforter and has many details sewn in. Some lion costumes have strobing lights (selfie time!) that also need repairs and replacement.

The Chinese New Year festival will take place Saturday, Jan 28, from 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. inside the Crow Collection of Asian Art and outdoors on Flora and Harwood Streets in the Dallas Arts District. So don't miss the lion (and dragon) dances and many other traditional festivities, including family-fun art-making activities, calligraphy demonstrations, face painting, face changers, fortune telling, kung fu and breaking demos, Beijing Opera renditions, musical performances, traditional Chinese dances and more, plus a fantastic fireworks finale to close the evening! The event is free and open to the public.