Belgium's port city of Antwerp got into the spirit of Chinese New Year with the opening on 27 January 2017 of the Legends of Lion Dance exhibition, which will showcase Hong Kong's cultural heritage and traditional crafts until 16 February.
The exhibition displays 12 authentic and unique lion heads, made, embroidered and adorned by skilled Hong Kong craftsmen using traditional techniques. Lion heads like those from the 'Three Kingdoms'; story are also on display. Visitors will learn how lion heads are made and how this traditional craft has been passed down generations of artisans in Hong Kong, as well as the legends and stories associated with the lion dance. Live lion dances will take place on 1 February, to tie in with the City of Antwerp's Chinese New Year parade, and on 16 February.
With the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels (HKETO, Brussels) and the Belgium-Hong Kong Society, a locally-born second generation member of the Hong Kong community Mr Joe Choi, of the Choi Lee Fat Belgium Association and Wong Man Sun Kung Fu Lion and Dragon Dance School expressed his passion for this unique blend of tradition and martial arts by putting together this exhibition.
Mr Choi, a lion-dance performer with 20 years of experience, said he had noticed that while western onlookers enjoy the authenticity and beauty of the traditional dance, they do not always understand the meaning behind it. The aim of the exhibition was to increase visitors' knowledge and understanding and thus enhance their appreciation of the ancient ritual and its importance in Hong Kong culture.
Deputy Representative of the HKETO, Brussels, Miss Alice Choi, Alderman for City Development, Sports and Diamonds of the City of Antwerp, Mr Ludo van Campenhout and Chairman of the Belgium-Hong Kong Society Mr Piet Steel officiated with Mr Choi at the opening, which featured an expertly-performed lion dance attended by over 100 guests.
Miss Choi said 'The lion dance is an important part of Hong Kong's cultural heritage. It gives more colour to our festive celebrations and trains young people to persevere and strive for better performance. We are proud to play a role in passing on this unique form of traditional art to future generations and to share it with our European friends.';
The Legends of Lion Dance exhibition is being held until 16 February at the library Permeke Bibliotheek, at 26 De Conickplein, close to Antwerp's Chinatown and main railway station. It is open seven days a week and entry is free of charge.