Tap-Seac Art Fair, opening festivities. A crowd has gathered, led by a juggler, a mime, several clowns and sundry circus people. To the right of the stage area: a projector screen, a table, a beautiful collection of pencils and china ink pens and white papers await Morgan O’Hara.
Drums. Drums. Drums! They begin at first as a soft whisper and gradually build into become booming voices of celebration. O’Hara holds two pencils with each hand, which have now come to life, tracking the movements of the performing drummers. The audience smiles and claps as the lion arrives, and the latest LIVE TRANSMISSION begins to appear on the screen for everyone to see. Team-Win Lion Dance Theater takes over the festival.
The theater group was established in 2000 by the Chens, three brothers who are now in their 30s, and have over 20 years of experience in lion dance practices and Kung Fu training to perform in temple fairs. The artist director, Chin-Yi, is the youngest of the brothers. Their theatre productions began in 2002 and include a series of “drumming theatre”, “drumming and dance theatre”, and “legend of awakening lion theatre”. Their performances are extracted and developed from the essence of traditional arts of the Greater China Region, and transformed through modern theatrical techniques, enhanced audio and visual aesthetics.
According to the members of the Team-Win Lion Dance Theatre, “Great festivals can enrich people’s spiritual life, change the environment, and present a better image of the city”. For this reason, they consider it their responsibility to develop this kind of art, and to represent their traditions and origin everywhere in the world. O’Hara’s talent stands to the challenge of the music. Her 20 year Aikido practice has led her to find remarkable balance between right and left hands, and her impressive ability to follow the movements simultaneously, makes of this process a magnificent visual experience. Drums, drums, drums!
“The Flying Lion, Essence of the Lion Dance”, is a performance with four parts. It begins with drumming, one or two drummers demonstrating their enviable skills, which have been enhanced by their advanced Kung-Fu training. The second act, “The Lazy Lady Playing with the Lion”, follows the rythmical drumming. The sounds wake up the sleeping lion, who has the characteristics of a curious child. The Lazy Lady, a popular character in traditional performing arts of the Lion Dance Drama, teases him and flirts with the audience. In the third act, a competition between drummers showcases a rich mixture of movement and dance skills. The energy grows higher with every beat as more difficult skills are displayed between the drummers, to show off their abilities. The last act is titled “The Dancing Lion Flying over the Mountains and Gorges”, and it involves special techniques of stake jumping. Through the plot of the play, the lion shows hesitation, happiness, fear, worry and excitement, evokes the public’s clapping and cheering.
As the music begins to fade, the projection on the screen shows a close-up of O’Hara’s finished drawing. What better way could there be to celebrate art, than this interaction between athletic excellence, virtuoso drumming, and the mastery of line and movement?