Penn’s football team was not the only Penn team to win an Ivy League championship this year. On Sunday, the Penn Lions team placed first at the annual Lion Dance competition held at Columbia University.
Penn Lions competed against Columbia, Yale and Cornell Universities.
The group learns and performs the lion dance, a traditional Chinese dance in which performers mimic the movements of a lion. The dance is meant to “scare away evil spirits and bring good luck,” according to Engineering sophomore and team member Brian Lee.
Lion dances are usually performed at the Chinese lunar New Year, which Engineering sophomore and Penn Lions Treasurer Jason Pan described as the busiest time of the year for Penn Lions. The team organized and performed this year’s lunar New Year’s celebrations.
“Our mission is to spread Chinese culture and tradition,” Pan said.
He enjoyed competing against other Ivies. “It was great getting the chance to perform at Columbia because New York is an area where there’s a lot of lion dancing heritage,” Pan said.
The Student Activities Council recognized the team, which began two years ago, last year.
Penn Lions takes bookings for performances at local colleges, private parties, student groups, conferences, fund raising dinners and other events. This semester, they performed at Temple University, as well as several restaurant openings.
The team is composed of 16 members, 14 of whom are male.
“The lion dance usually attracts guys because of its martial arts background,” Lee said. “We’re definitely looking for more females to join the team though.”
“Our founders were guys, and they brought all their friends to join, which is probably why the team is mostly male,” Pan added.
The team practices twice a week, although they practiced every day the week leading up to the competition at Columbia.
“Our training is pretty intense and can be a little dangerous sometimes,” Pan said.
Next year’s lion dance competition will be hosted at Penn. The team hopes to expand the competition beyond the Ivy League universities.
Lee, who joined the team this year, did so because he “really wanted to get more in touch with [his] roots as a Chinese American.”
“Most people these days go for more modern forms of dance,” Pan added. “I wanted to do something more traditional and cultural, as well as get the chance to meet people.”
Penn Lions will be hosting try-outs at the beginning of next semester.
“We definitely want people to try out and see what the lion dance is all about,” Pan said.
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