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Meet brothers Aaron & Alexander

Very soon, they will be living their dream doing something they are very passionate about. It has something to do with lions, old Chinese traditions, and a bit of coordinated dancing. Before I tell you what that is, I’m sure you already suspect, I want to take you back to around a year ago when the brothers stumbled into a peculiar video on YouTube. The video showed these fancy and ornate lion costume/puppet things. Inside this thing were two men making it move and giving it the mannerisms and movements of a lion. They wore these shiny matching pants that gave the appearance of the lion’s legs.

The boys were so enamored by this dance, they decided to create their own lion costume thing. So they went to their craft table and grabbed all the necessary supplies; yarn, cardboard scraps, hot glue, pipe cleaners, paint, oh and a diaper box for the head! The boys made their own little lions and started teaching themselves the Chinese Lion Dance. In their backyard they’d put on performances for their parents and younger siblings. They continued watching lion dance videos and learned how to best make their movements appear like a real lion. But the lions on YouTube were very acrobatic and jumped on platforms to really wow their audiences. So the boys asked their dad to build them some platforms. He built them one, then two, and finally three. They spend hours a week practicing and getting in touch with their inner lions.

Dancing comes natural to these boys, last November they performed at the Global Village Welcome Center with Grupo Folclórico Macehuani. But they didn’t know that their lion dance will bring them back. As the holidays approached, the boys were feeling very good about their lion dance and wanted to take the next step toward perfection. On their wish list for Santa, the boys requested a real Chinese lion costume. Their mother tells me she scrambled to look for the costume not being so sure how to find one. Everywhere she looked the costumes were just too expensive for her to afford. However, she didn’t give up. She searched Facebook for local lion dance crews and stumbled upon Kwan Hui at the Indiana Association of Chinese Americans, a cultural organization that has worked with the International Marketplace Coalition many times before. Their mom told Kwan what they wanted and the IACA happens to have 4 children’s lion costumes. Though they do not sell the costumes, they do lend them out to their members. On Christmas Day under the tree, there was not a lion costume for the boys. Instead, there was a letter from Kwan; Aaron and Alexander, the IACA would like to invite you to join our Lion Dance crew where you will get to practice and perform with real Chinese lion costumes. The boys were thrilled. Their mom tells me they cherish and read the letter daily. Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, I’m working on the finishing touches for the Global Village’s Lunar New Year exhibit and Immersion event. I decided to reach out to Kwan to see if he would help me organize a lion dance for our pretend countdown. He said to me, “I have two boys who are eager to perform. Let’s round up some kids and make it a children’s lion dance presentation.” I said “let’s do it!” Two rehearsals in and the children are ready for their performance.

Actually, for brothers Aaron and Alexander, there’s still something missing. You know those shiny matching pants the performers wear? Yeah they’re kind of important and Kwan doesn’t have them. So the boys asked their mom for a pair each. Fortunately, their mom has those in the works. She researched the necessary materials; sequins, shiny vinyl, windbreaker fabric, faux fur, oh and elastic for the waist so they don’t fall off. It’s been one year in the making but Aaron’s and Alexander’s lion will finally roar in its full glory at the Global Village Welcome Center on January 29 right as we ring in the Lunar New Year at 2:00 pm. You cannot miss it, so come out and support these boys who are very dedicated and passionate about this beautiful Chinese tradition.

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