Vancouver Sun: ‘Holding on by a thread:’ Push to revive the Chinese unicorn dance comes to Vancouver

Vancouver Sun: ‘Holding on by a thread:’ Push to revive the Chinese unicorn dance comes to Vancouver

Joanne Lee-Young profiled Vancouver Tsung Tsin (Hakka) Association and Chinatown Together‘s efforts to continue the tradition of Qilin 麒麟 (kei4 leon4) dancing, including their upcoming event at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Courtyard at 3:30pm on April 13.

More Info on the Event & Qilin Dancing

Event RSVP Link

From Joanne Lee-Young’s article in the Vancouver Sun:

Six vintage headpieces decorated in a colourful explosion of hand-painted peonies, peach blossoms, chrysanthemums, fish scales and Chinese characters sit in the attic of an old association building near Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Rarer and more fantastical than lion or dragon costumes, these headpieces represent the qilin — a mythical creature often described as a Chinese unicorn, but actually is a blend of a dragon, deer, goat and sometimes other animals.

After a period of dormancy, qilin dancing — a tradition of the Hakka people — is undergoing a revival, both locally and around the world.

“We are excited that young Hakka people are interested in reviving the qilin dance and we are happy to work with them,” said Peter Chong, chairman and president of the Vancouver Tsung Tsin Hakka Association, which was established in the early 1970s and owns the vintage headpieces.

The association in Vancouver teamed up with Chinatown Together, a group that uses culture to push against gentrification. They connected two of the newer, sturdier vintage headpieces with a local qilin dancing master, Vincent Vung, who grew up in Malaysia, watching and learning the art form from his father.

For the past few weeks, Vung has been teaching a group of about a dozen people. At a recent session, some of them demonstrated what they have been practising. Whereas lion and dragon dancers move up and down, the qilin, which has a tail that looks like a multicoloured quilt with colours representing earth, wood, metal, fire and water, moves with dynamic twists to the beat of clashing cymbals.

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