Thinking Like a Lion: Danny Tran (12)

Lunar New Year is a holiday that is celebrated by millions of people. A two-week holiday that contains customs and practices which leads to vibrant festivals such as setting off fireworks to ward off evil spirits. One of the main customs that is associated with Lunar New Year is lion dancing. Many colorful lion dances are performed to ensure a successful year ahead. Danny Tran (12), one of the lion dancers, spends a good amount of his time practicing lion dancing to prepare for Lunar New Year and other traditional events. Around this time of the year, Danny performs for cultural events, religious ceremonies, festivals, or parties.

Danny started lion dancing at a young age. Although unsure at the thought of performing, Danny continued to work hard towards his goal of improving. He knew he made the right choice to stay after improving and working tirelessly. He says, “After my disastrous first performance, I wanted to quit. But I felt a determination that wouldn’t let me give up. I pushed myself to improve with the advice and support my teammates gave me.” Danny practiced hard to fix his mistakes, perfecting his stance and kicks to overcome his fear of jumping off a high platform or his partner during difficult tricks. More often than not, he would end up failing by not quite making the jump from one platform to the next and falling hard on the ground. But rather than discouraging himself, these failures fueled his determination to improve. After months of grueling practice, Danny improved tremendously.

The art of lion dancing is tough work, and Danny says that although he’s always nervous to perform, “with the audience’s applause, I realized the mask didn’t feel quite as heavy anymore. I heard the familiar sound of the drum banging and the cymbals clashing, but I no longer felt nervous, and I confidently put on my lion mask.” Bringing these various and beautiful lions to life require a lot of discipline and form, but Danny is glad to be a part of a team that holds a degree of artistry and playacting for everyone to enjoy at every Lunar New Year.