Shaolin Dragon Dance Troupe

The Dragon meets young Zhiwen Leong, born in the Year of the Dragon 1988.

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The Chinese Dragon Dance has become a popular feature during festivities, celebrations, opening of businesses, weddings, anniversaries, fun fairs, processions, cultural or important events. Traditionally it was confined within the Chinese Community, but in recent years it has spread outside and become very popular around the world. There is hardly a cultural event nowadays without the call of the Chinese Dragon Dance.

The Chinese Dragon comes in different costumes, which can red, gold, green, or in mixed colours. There are about 30 to 100 metres long, depending on the number of persons carrying them.

The Shaolin Dragon Troupe has a 9-person dragon with an additional person carrying the pole with the pearl.
It is accompanied by a group of musicians, eaither playing the drum, gong or cymbals. The performance can by anything from ten to thirty minutes depending on the needs of the occasion. Usually it is important not to overdo the length of the performance, which should peak and finish within fifteen minutes. However in a procession, the performance is dependant on the length of the procession.

The Shaolin Dragon Dance Troupe has appeared regularly on BBC. For the past 18 years it has taken parts in events in London Chinatown. For the year of the Dragon in 1988 it was given the honour of meeting the Prince of Wales for the film premiere of The Last Emperor. In February 2000, another Year of the Dragon, it was again given the honour of welcoming the Prince to London Chinatown.

Grandmaster Yap Leong was given an unexpected opportunity when the then President of London Chinatown, Mr. Tim Yau, approached him to do the Dragon Dance for the Chinese New Year 1988. It was also the Year of the Dragon, which was regarded as an auspicious year amongst the Chinese. The Dragon was donated by the Chinese Governmenet to the association. It consisted of 28 sections and was long and difficult to perform because it was so heavy.

The opportunity to do the Dragon Dance for London Chinatown, led to the team being asked again to perform for Prince Charles & Princess Dianne at the official premiere of the film, The Last Emperor, in Leicester Square.

On the left, as the fire crackers were exploding around, the Shaolin Fists Lion and Dragon saluted the Chinatown Stone Lions which were the spiritual guardians of the area. On the right is the aerial view of how long the dragon was. Gerard Street was jam-packed and the Dragon could hardly move through the crowd.

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Grandmaster Yap Leong on the drum with his teenage son and students.

The 9-person dragon weaving through Gerard St. during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Grandmaster Yap Leong and his then pregnant wife met both Prince Charles & Princes Diana at the premiere of the Last Emperor in 1988, the year of the Dragon. The event was broadcast live on national TV. The same year. Yap Leong's son, Zhiwen (below left) was born.

12 years later, again the Year of the Dragon, Grandmaster Yap Leong's Dragon team welcomed the first official vist of Prince Charles to London Chinatown. Fate (or co-incidence?) had it when Zhiwen, who was still in his mother's belly in 1988, was able to meet the Prince that day. Yap Leong's other child, Lewei, was holding the 'red pearl sand' for the Prince to 'dot' the new Dragon. The news and picture was published in China & South-East Asia.

The Green Dragon represents the element 'Wood' in Chinese Feng Shui.

Whenever our Dragon appears, rain seems to follow. This is auspicious if the rain is not too heavy, otherwise we all get a good soaking.

To hire a Dragon Dance Team contact Grandmaster Yap Leong on 07768 321 092

Email shaolinway@btconnect.com

 

©Yap Leong

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To hire a lion or dragon dance team for wedding, Chinese New Year or any celebration contact Grandmaster Yap Leong on 07768321092