Last week, NPR reporter Hansi Lo Wang visited us at “the den”, aka our practice space in Chinatown, to work on a story featuring…us! We were in the throws of rehearsing for the Lunar New Year so he got to see first-hand all the insanity.
The story aired earlier this afternoon:
‘Still Turning Heads’ At Lunar New Year, An All-Female Lion Dance Troupe
Lion and dragon dancers are set to parade down Chinatown streets around the country again with the Friday start of another Lunar New Year.
You’ve probably seen these traditional dance troupes in Lunar New Year celebrations, performing gymnastic feats under papier-mache lion’s heads, and swaying cloth dragons aloft on poles – all to the pounding rhythms of cymbals and drums amidst a flurry of crimson firecrackers.
But Reverend Cheng Imm Tan’s troupe is redefining the Lunar New Year tradition. She formed a troupe in Boston almost 16 years ago under the name “Gund Kwok,” Cantonese for “heroine.”
“I think everybody thought [at first], ‘Oh! What a cute idea! Let’s give it a try.’ I don’t know that anybody expected us to last this long,” Tan says. “We’re still turning heads. People are like, ‘Wow! They’re women!'”
Check out the video piece by Daniel Sato as we prepare for a performance.
The lion that roars into the opening reception Wednesday evening boasts a distinctive voice — that of female power and creativity. Named after the Chinese word for heroine, the troupe is the only all-female lion and dragon performance group in the country. The Boston-based troupe of more than two dozen performers celebrated its 10th year last fall.
We switched it up a bit during our warm-ups — incorporated some nice circuit training which got our hearts pumping. We did some laps around the space, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and burpees…over and over again 😛
After doing some final stretch-outs, we broke off into two teams. Team A practiced for an upcoming wedding performance and Team B worked on refining some core moves like the “horse stance”…
“an important posture in Asian martial arts and takes its name from the position assumed when riding a horse. It is called mǎbù (馬步) in Chinese, kiba-dachi (騎馬立ち?) in Japanese, kuda-kuda in Indonesian, kekuda in Malay, asvavadivu in Malayalam, and juchum seogi or annun seogi (lit. sitting stance) in Korean. This stance can not only be integrated into fighting but also during exercises and forms. It is most commonly used for practicing punches or to strengthen the legs and back.” Read More
It was a great night…albeit a tad bit humid.
I think it’s safe to say that summer is finally here 🙂
This week’s work-out was brought to you by sprints, burpees, ab crushers, face-offs, and…den clean-up!
My quads are still sore from last night’s warm-up and face-off drills. We did all this while also Clorox-ing the heck out of our music room which houses all the drums, cymbals, benches, and other gear. The clean-up was only part two of the effort as our dragon dance teammates worked on the other half of the space the other week.
It was definitely a team effort.
After a pretty intense warm-up of cardio, sprints and a whole lot of abs, we started moving all the stuff from the music room out. And while we were waiting for the Clorox to dry out, we got some lion heads and went on to do some drills for a minute, facing-off from two lions which then somehow increased to three and then four.
Toward the end, we threw in some jump and lift training.
Before we knew it, time was up. We bowed out together to end practice and then, of course, some of us went for some much-needed chow.
We have some new teams preparing for upcoming performances and we need all the time we can get in order to practice, practice, and practice some more. But before we get down to business, we always go through a 1.5 hour warm-up — cardio, stretching, and ab exercises.
On this night, the featured exercise of the evening was the plank, aka ‘elbow plank.’
According to FitSugar: This is a killer move for your core, legs, and upper body. When holding Elbow Plank, be sure your shoulders are stacked over your elbows and your body is in one straight line:
Start on the floor, resting on your forearms and knees
Step your feet out one at a time, coming into a plank position.
Contract your abs to prevent your booty from sticking up or sinking. Your spine should be parallel to the floor, with your abs pulling toward the ceiling.
Hold 30 seconds, and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.
To learn more about this and other forms of the plank, visit FitSugar.
We were calling each other on form left and right. And so we did more than what we usually do. We should’ve had a plank-a-thon 🙂