Cal VSA – Lion Dance

Most Outstanding Performance Nomination: Cal Vietnamese Student Association

Performance name: Cal VSA Lion Dance

Performance Choreographer: Alexis Tran


This lion dance performance is apart of the Cal VSA Culture Show 2017 and it pays homage to the suffering felt by prisoners of the Vietnam War, and the courage and strength to overcome that trauma through everlasting friendship. The scene of this performance is set in a coffee shop where Hung, the store owner, hires a lion dance group in order to celebrate the 30th annual reunion with his two friends Minh and Trung. These three friends were South Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam war and after the devastating loss, they were all forced into a re-education camp. In the performance, the lions are characterized by actual characters within the Culture Show. The first three lions sleeping on stage are the three friends. The center lion, black and gold, is Minh, the main character, and the two white lions are Hung and Trung. The last lion to enter, the black and white lion, represent the re-education camp officer.
The performance begins with the aggressive entrance of the officer waking up the prisoners. Trung and Hung wake up and begin eating their breakfast while Minh wakes up confused and dismantled. With the help of his friends, Minh is encouraged to eat. Unprovoked, the officer begins to bully the prisoners. Upset with the harassment, Minh challenges the officer. Despite the mindless and dangerous nature of the challenge, Trung and Hung jumps in and supports Minh against the officer. In response to the challenge, the officer aggressively reminds the prisoners who they are and their place. Beaten down, Minh realizes that his only option is to survive. The three friends help each other stay sane throughout the remainder of their sentence, the way Hung and Trung helped Minh that day.
As they pick each other up, they join together in a dance of unity. As each friend shows off their own personality, they celebrate their individuality and their reunion with the scrolls. In the end, they come together and sleep on each other’s backs to show the support they all provide for each other and the unbreakable bond between the three friends.