With the Opium War as the backdrop and the Sanyuanli Anti-British Struggle as the climax, dance drama Awakening Lion
traces history to a hundred years ago with the lion dancers of today looking back at their predecessors. The Sanyuanli Anti-British Struggle was the first victorious armed struggle of the Chinese people against invasion in modern Chinese history. Against this background, the dance drama expresses the vision of national rejuvenation, in which lion dance is evergreen and passed down from generation to generation, and the celebration of Chinese culture enjoys longevity.
Where there is Chinese people, there is lion dance
As a branch of traditional Chinese lion dance, Southern Lion Dance is called the “Awakening Lion” because of its power and eye-catching style. It is a collection of excellent folk culture that integrates martial arts, dance and music, and is included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage. Guangdong lion dance is considered to be auspicious to ward off evil spirits. Whenever there is a festival or a major event, the Guangdong lion dance will be performed; it is handed down from generation to generation and never loses its appeal. The Guangdong lion dance embodies the spirit of the Chinese people, the national image of pioneering, unity and fearlessness; it also serves as a cultural bridge between China and the rest of the world. Where there is Chinese people, there is lion dance. It has become a cultural symbol of self-reflection, self-improvement, pride and self-confidence of the Chinese people.
The first glorious banner of the Chinese people’s struggle against aggression
In May 1840, western warships blockaded the Pearl River Estuary, and the First Opium War broke out, gradually reducing China to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. Chinese suffered unprecedented humiliation and hardship.
In May 1841, the northern forts of Guangzhou were under siege. The people of Southern Guangdong showed the unyieldingness and iron will of the Chinese nation in the Sanyuanli Anti-British Struggle.
The Sanyuanli Anti-British Struggle was the first time in modern history that Chinese people spontaneously fought against foreign aggression, and it demonstrated the courage of Chinese people to resist violence and combat with the western powers. It was the first glorious banner of the Chinese people’s struggle against aggression.
Presenters: Publicity Department of the CPC Guangzhou Municipal Committee, Guangzhou Municipal Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism Bureau
Producer & Performer: Guangzhou Song and Dance Theatre
China National Arts Fund’s Financial Aids for Theatrical Art in 2019
China Dance Lotus Award for Dance Drama
Supported by China Literature and Art Foundation and the Special Fund for the Development of Chinese Literature and Art
Artistic Director / Stage Director: SHI Qianjin
Managing Producer: LIN Kaibin
Media & Presentation: QIAN Xin, WANG Sisi
Librettist: LUO Li
Composer: WANG Zhe
Set Designer: LIU Kedong
Lighting Designer: XING Xin
Costume Designer: TAO Lei
Video Projection Designer: HU Tianji
Hair Style Designers: WANG Yan, ZHANG Jiangjiang
Acting Coach of Lion Dance: ZHAO Weibin
Martial Art / Acting Coach of Lion Dance: MA Xiaobin
Master Long: YI Lifan
Axing: PANG Guanyu
Feng’er: ZHU Jinhui
Mother of Axing: YAN Yiyan
Mother of Axing: LIU Xingyue
Modern Lion Dancer: LI Ao
Southern Guangdong has a long history of lion dance and a simple folk culture. Villagers from four nearby villages, including Axing and Master Long, are preparing to take over the title of Sanyuanli Lion King.
On the eve of the competition, Axing and Master Long have their first encounter in a teahouse and Axing wins a narrow victory. Feng’er, Long’s younger sister is secretly in love with Axing and dates him. Due to Long’s defeat, his family loses all honour and glory. In order to win, Long becomes an opium addict. Because of the family feud, Axing’s mother strongly opposes her son’s practice of martial arts and lion dance.
On the day of the competition, Guangzhou is destroyed by the invaders’ artillery fire. Their hometown is devastated and the blood of Feng’er stains the ruin. As the people of Guangzhou are facing a national disaster, Axing and Long set aside their personal grudges and join hands in drumming and lion dance. They swore an oath with the villagers of Sanyuanli to defend their home against foreign enemies.