I have a personal grading system for Lion Dancers and their performances.
We just watch a performance at Novena Square, with a Lion Dance Troupe hired to perform on columns and and they are at least a Level 3.
With the highest level requiring or demonstrating greater skills and athleticism.
Level 1 is the lowest starting level and basically requires one to put on the costume and prance around a bit. There would be little or not acrobatics or display of athleticism.
These “dancers” would have been familiarised with the basic moves (cocking the head of the lion, working the mouth, eyes and ears, and the basic steps or choreography and synchronisation with the drum beat. It is more difficult that it looks.
At level 1, the Lion Dancers can do VIP greetings (they wait to receive the VIP at some celebratory function, then prance around joyfully when the VIP arrives), New Year greetings and wishes door to door or stall to stall at shops and businesses. The cramp confines proscribes any acrobatic feats anyway.
Level 2 would be slightly more advanced. Here the Lion Dancer would need to have some acrobatic skills. Standing on the hind legs (the front dancer has to be carried by the back dancer, or has to rest or step on the back dancer.) There would also be jumps, rolls, and other complicated actions requiring skills and coordination. Such a skilled team would be suitable to lead or headline a commissioned performance for auspicious wishes for a business. We saw one last year when there was 9 Lions. But only one lion was a level two, doing all the “hard work”. The other 8 were Level 1 back-up dancers providing numbers, and adding to the sense of auspiciousness.
But at Novena Square that evening Z (and we) caught a Level 3 Lion performance.
There is skill, coordination, courage, trust, and teamwork for two men to walk on 2 m high columns that are only about the size of a dinner plate, and DANCE bent over in a Lion costume. Add in jumps and leaps and contortions on the columns, and you have to realise that there are hours of practice behind that level of confidence and expertise.
Of course to my jaded eye (seen other performance on Youtube), I am sure there are higher levels of lion dancing skills.
But that was spectacular.