In the Yr of the Dragon, Gio Nam Mua Lan celebrates 20 a long time

Ora Sawyers

When most pupils were being finishing up their classes and heading property for the day, the customers of Gió Nam Múa Lân collected in front of UC Irvine’s Social Sciences making to get ready for what would be a two-hour observe.

Hung Le Couture, who started the team in 2004, viewed its customers go as a result of their paces on a modern Thursday night with tranquil fondness and satisfaction.

In the hazy gentle afforded by the encompassing properties and road lamps, instructors drummed and clacked their sticks against the rims of their instruments as they directed the lion dancers via their poses with minimal additional than a phrase and the rhythm that echoed as a result of the night time.

Le Couture reported the group arrived about right after he joined the campus’ Vietnamese University student Assn., recognized as VSA. He claimed he was asked to do a lion dance and felt a connection with it.

Jacky Thai, 19, wearing the lion head and Sasha Lin, 19, holding the tail of the lion.

Jacky Thai, 19, donning the lion head and Sasha Lin, 19, holding the tail of the lion, rehearse with the Gio Nam Mua Lan at the Social Science Corridor quad at UC Irvine. The team commonly meets each and every Monday and Thursday to apply.

(James Carbone)

“I’ve been doing marital arts since I was 7 … and as soon as I bought [to UC Irvine], I mentioned, ‘I need to hold up on that progression calendar year in and year out.’ I reported I was going to commence my own martial arts group, but I did not sense that I was deserving,” Le Couture explained.

“So instead, I asked if I could start a lion dance workforce to spread the art because when I obtained to Irvine, there was very little right here,” he continued. “Twenty years ago, there was nothing at all in this article. It was just so desolate and … not a good deal of society and I just wanted to carry [culture] with me.

“Once I received permission, then we started off the crew with VSA.”

As time went on, the team grew substantially. It begun with a skeleton crew of just five persons: Le Couture, the head of the lion and the percussionists. Now, the workforce has about 56 customers. The bulk are UCI college students or alumni, while some members have arrive out from the group or read about the team and vacation to Irvine from elsewhere to be a part of in.

Meredith Edmonston, 19, a freshman at UCI, stretches in the "forward stance."

Meredith Edmonston, 19, a freshman at UC Irvine, stretches in the “forward stance” as she rehearses with the Gio Nam lion dance staff.

(James Carbone)

The lion dance team has done at little events like weddings and for Lunar New Yr, but also have bragging legal rights for participating in the Rose Parade and Hell’s Kitchen. They are continue to in their busiest general performance time, which begins in mid-January and ends in late February, however they get booked all through the 12 months. The workforce cycles by way of about 30 lion costumes for their performances.

Bao-linh Nguyen, who graduated from UCI in 2018 but remains with the group as a person of its senior-most customers, reported she received pulled in by just one of her buddies who was by now on the workforce. Nguyen stated she reluctantly agreed to come to the to start with exercise and see what the team was about.

Now she’s been with the group for nearly 15 decades and reported she stays mostly in element mainly because it’s a family members in its have appropriate. She also mentioned it is like currently being in a mentorship system, in which crew customers are extra than just co-workers and performers.

“Some of these people are my closest pals. They are likely to be at my wedding. I’m likely to their weddings,” she claimed with a smile. “I really like lion dance alone and I imagine the art is stunning, together with the craftsmanship that goes into every costume. Every school has its personal one of a kind style and when you meet up with somebody who does the art well — they’re definitely good at drumming or they dance very well— you can explain to they have passion. There’s a couple [of us] that you know, we’re going to do it for the relaxation of our life.”

Performers from the Gio Nam lion dance group dance at the Cerritos Towne Center earlier this year.

Performers from the Gio Nam lion dance team dance at the Cerritos Towne Heart previously this calendar year.

(Courtesy of Gio Nam Mua Lan)

No just one desires to be an expert when they join the group, Nguyen explained.

All teaching commences with the assumption that individuals are new to the artwork, but they require to be adaptable enough performers that they could swap into the head, tail or any other required position for performances.

Ashwath Palavalli, a very first-calendar year mechanical engineering student at UCI, mentioned he arrived from Sacramento, which he described as a diverse enclave the place he was enriched by other cultures.

He claimed he preferred to stay concerned in studying about other cultures when he arrived to Irvine and joined the team right after observing them carry out at the campus club truthful.

Pictured are some of the members from Gio Nam Mua Lan in 2007.

Pictured are some of the associates from Gio Nam Mua Lan in 2007. The team was founded in 2004 and is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

(Courtesy of Gio Nam Mua Lan)

“I noticed that and I was like, ‘Wow, I seriously want to get associated,’ and so which is why I joined lion dance. Right after my initially day, it truthfully is a definitely welcoming natural environment. They educate you a great deal about the lifestyle from Working day 1 and it’s not only about the dancing, but they educate you about selected tactics, traditions with the dancing and it’s a actually superior practical experience,” Palavalli mentioned.

For Brandon Duong, a fourth 12 months computer system science significant, claimed he also acquired concerned in Gió Nam Múa Lân right after looking at them at the club fair. He explained he applied to do lion dancing as a kid, but stopped to focus on his teachers.

Hearing the drums, he explained, manufactured him feel nostalgic.

“I felt like it was calling me. It was declaring, ‘Hey, come back again. Do stuff. Spread your society close to. Distribute good luck and fortune all over. Have pleasurable, do actual physical action, all that things,’” Duong said. “It was difficult. I applied to do sports in large faculty and center school, but I stopped for my reports, ideal? So, when I arrived back again, the lions are much bigger than you imagine. Mainly because I was younger, the lions were scaled-down.

Sasha Lin, 19, a student at UC Irvine, right, takes a turn wearing the lion head.

Sasha Lin, 19, a scholar at the UC Irvine, proper, takes a change wearing the lion head as she rehearses with the Gio Nam Mua Lan at the Social Science Hall quad.

(James Carbone)

“I got as significantly as ‘Oh, you go this way and this appears to be like that,’ but the lions here are seriously big. They’re fancy and prolonged and … so when you join this staff, you have to have the physical toughness to show you have electricity and portray your self as a lion. When I first joined, I experienced a great deal of difficulty just relocating the head. But around the a long time, the leaders train you simple guidelines and tips and simple strengthening abilities. You just get way much better and you are in a position to convey on your own perfectly.”

All agreed they are willing to established aside time to follow and complete for the reason that they treatment about preserving the art and custom.

Nguyen explained that, as portion of the 20th anniversary, they’re organizing a vacation to Catalina Island for their annual retreat and are thinking about a digital yearbook for all users, past and existing. They also acquired common war flags that normally accompany other martial arts colleges and lion dance teams.

“We’re hoping we can continue on undertaking this into the future,” Nguyen said. “We’re looking forward to undertaking a lot more and extra mad stuff — building new props, having new lion heads and, with any luck ,, expanding our crew.”

Performers from Gio Nam Mua Lan perform a dragon dance at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights.

Performers from Gio Nam Mua Lan complete a dragon dance at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights in early February.

(Courtesy of Gio Nam Mua Lan)

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