Embracing Culture with Dragon Dance


Haylee Brewer

Dragon Dance team practice before the Academic awards assembly.

At Kennedy High School there is a little-known club called “Dragon Dance”. Dragon dance is one of the ways Chinese culture celebrates different holidays, like Chinese new year. Chinese New Year is a celebration of the beginning of the new year in the Chinese calendar. 

“This was something that came with the job,” Grant Brown, Chinese foreign language teacher at Kennedy, said.

Dragon dance was started by the Chinese teachers. Brown was asked, when he became the school Chinese teacher, if he wanted to teach dragon dance. He chose to continue with the team.

Dragon dancers need to have teamwork together in order for the dragon to have a smooth flow. The school’s dragon uses a total of seven poles and the new dragon will have a total of nine poles. The body of the nine pole dragon will also be bigger. The nine pole dragon is a new one that was purchased mainly because the current seven pole dragon is falling apart.

This helps the team to have empathy for each other. During practice, people will make mistakes. Each member is trying to learn and keep the rhythm of the dragon while not hitting the person in front of them in the head. 

“Being able to laugh about your own mistakes and the mistakes that others make makes it seem more like a family,” Gabe Barnes jr. said. Barnes is one of the senior dragon dancers

Dragon dance is a celebration of Chinese holidays and other celebrations in the area. At Kennedy, the team performed at the AP Awards assembly. Along with Celebrating Chinese New Year on Jan 31, the team performed on Feb 9 at Mt. Mercy University.

Practicing and working with other people can be challenging. It can become more difficult to learn because when one of the dancers makes a mistake, it will affect everyone behind them. This can be a deterrent along with how much physical activity and time it takes to learn. 

“Coordination is one of the hardest things to do in dragon dance along with getting over being cramped with other people,” Barnes said.

Barnes is the head of the dragon and is considered the leader during the performances. This is a difficult role because after a few minutes of swinging the head, that person’s arms will start to burn.

The physical activity of swinging some PVC pipe around doesn’t seem that hard for most people. However, it becomes more challenging as you try to incorporate different tricks and patterns into performances.

Dragon dancing takes a lot of time to learn and get it right. Practices are usually an hour long after school. They can be either once or twice a week depending on when the performances are.

“To me, Dragon dance means that there is a party and people are having a good time,” Brown said. 

Dragon dancing is a representation of wisdom, wealth, and power. It is a performance that is meant to scare away evil and bring good fortune to people. It is meant to be a celebration for everyone that is either watching it or performing with the dragon.