A significant aspect of the Chinese New Year festivities is the dragon dance. They are frequently the main attraction for Chinese New Year, along with lion dances. Dragon dances are performed across China and in Chinatowns around the world on many occasions, including Chinese New Year’s Day and the Lantern Festival. They are said to be a means of frightening evil spirits and bringing luck to humans. Being touched by a (dragon dance) dragon is seen as fortunate.
The dragon dance costume’s body is made up of a giant dragon’s head and a long, tail-like body that is divided into many portions and elevated on poles. The record was achieved in Hong Kong in 2012 at 5,605 meters (312 miles), however, the dragon may be as little as 2 meters or as long as 100 meters, or even over 1,000 meters! The longer the dragon, the more good fortune it is said to bring!
People frequently create a 9-jointed dragon, an 11-jointed dragon, a 13-jointed dragon, or even a 29-jointed dragon because odd numbers of the dragon’s joints are seen to be lucky.
Grass, bamboo, paper, and linen are just a few of the elements used to make the dragon dance costume. Segment by segment, a large red fabric with dragon scale decorations is used to weave the dragon’s body into a spherical and tubular shape. Dragon dancers frequently wear long pants that exactly fit the dragon’s body.
The dragon body that is used for the dragon dance is often kept in a nearby “Dragon King Temple,” and it can only be brought out on the day of the dragon dance, along with locals waving banners and flags, beating drums, and blowing trumpets. People perform an “eye-pointing” ceremony and join the dragon’s head and tail to its body.
The dragon is guided during the dance by a person holding a pole with a large ball (known as the “Pearl of Wisdom”) at the top. The dragon chases the ball as it is moved up, down, left to right, and around. Its body looks to be dancing as it moves in waves. The dragon is always seeking enlightenment, as symbolized by the dragon’s relentless motions in “Dragon Chasing the Pearl.”
A dragon dance’s choreography changes depending on the dancers’ abilities. The exercises “cloud cave,” “whirlpool,” “tai chi pattern,” “threading the money,” “searching for the pearl,” and “dragon surrounding the pillar” are examples of common motions.
The dragon’s body is returned to the temple where it will be maintained for use the following year once the head and tail have been burned.
Everywhere it travels, the dragon is welcomed, and occasionally the group performing the dragon dance will be given banquets up to five or six times, known as “dragon in exchange for wine.”