The Chinese consider the Lion Dance to bring all the good blessings of heaven to the whole community. It is done not only during the New Year's celebration but also on auspicious ocassions. Competitions and exhibitions of the Lion Dance are held regularly and I happened to see a crew practicing at the Ancestors' Temple in Foshan. The lion is formed by two performers. One forms the head and front legs and the one behind forms the body and hind legs. The lion's head is large but very light and the lower jaw, eyes and ears are moved by the performer so the lion can show expression of moods. The performers hide themselves under a cloth skin attached to the head. The lion is accompanied by musicians playing a drum, a gong and cymbals, and a man who entices the lion, usually holding a fan or a giant ball called Qing. The movements of the lion are choreographed and very agile and acrobatic. The performers are generally martial arts students. The lion jumps, turns, rears, etc stepping on small platforms barely large enough to set your foot on and these platforms are positioned several feet above the ground on top of posts as you can see in the following pictures. Click here to see a short clip of a team from Macau and see what the Lion Dance and music are like. I took the clip from this site where you can find more video clips.
Note the feet have not landed yet
In the following photos we see a regular Lion Dance crew which goes around
the neighborhood stores bringing the good luck and collecting tips.