Folk Art Performances (藝陣)

The Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association Traditional Folk Performing Arts Troupe has performed Lion & Dragon Dances as well as Drum Arrays for Chinese New Year, Tet Celebrations, Grand Openings of businesses, weddings, banquets and festivals throughout Madison, many parts of Wisconsin, throughout the Midwest and even as far as Maryland. Our school is a proud member of the World Sar Ping Lion Arts Federation and Sifu Nelson Ferreira is a direct disciple of Grandmaster Chan Siew Kee, third generation inheritor of the Sar Ping Arts and head of the Sar Ping Lion Arts family worldwide.

To book a performance please send us an This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Why Folk Art Performance (藝陣)?

Many people look at martial arts and see the students learning kicking, punching, and fighting applications and they think that is all there is. Students of the traditional Chinese martial arts styles are often drawn to the arts because of the beauty, grace, and power of the weapons and empty hand forms. They not only learn the martial part of their art (Wu - ), but also the cultural aspects as well, with many traditions, rituals and customs (Wen - 文). Often this takes the form of the student seeking the knowledge of the culture that inspired the art that they now study. Another way that ZYKFA students are able to learn the cultural aspect of their art is through traditional Chinese folk arts performances, also known as Yi Zhen (藝陣). 



What is Lion Dance (舞獅)?

Traditionally, during the Chinese New Year, Lion Dance Troupe will visit restaurants, households and shops throughout the community to perform the traditional custom of "Cai Qing" (採青), literally meaning "Plucking the Greens", a quest by the lion to pluck the auspicious green, normally lettuce, which in Chinese is called “Cái” (菜), which sounds like “Cái” (財) or “Fortune”, and auspicious fruits like oranges (sounds like "happiness", "blessings" or "good luck") and/or tangerines (sounds like "money") tied to a “Hóngbāo” (紅包- "Red Envelope") containing donation money; either hung high up or just put on a table in front or inside of the premises. The "lion" will dance and approach the "green" and "red envelope" like a curious cat, to "eat the green" (consuming what is simply “lettuce”) and "spit" it out (once it’s transformed into "fortune"), but keep the "red envelope". The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the businesses and households, sometimes our troupe is also rewarded with a lunch or dinner after the performance.

Thank you Hong Kong Cafe for sponsoring our Guan Yu Lion!

What is Dragon Dance (舞龍)?

ZYKFA Dragon

Not to be confused with Lion Dancing, which only has two people under the lion at a time, the Dragon Dance employs several performers (anywhere from three to hundreds of people) under a single Dragon with a "leader" carrying a globe, which represents wisdom that the Dragon constantly chases throughout the performance. The Dragon Dance is performed by holding poles under the body of the dragon, and performing intricate routines and formations with the dragon's head, body and tail as it chases a globe which can be called a "Pearl" or "Sun" (handled by another performer). The most common number of performers is 9 under the Dragon plus 1 carrying the "Pearl" or "Sun". Dragon costumes are also divided into different types varying by region and time, a common sight at Chinatown parades is the large and majestic traditional Cantonese style of Dragon with, sometimes, dozens of people under it, in contrast there's also the modern competition style Dragon that is lighter and is played much faster (with acrobatics included) and is usually only handled by nine people.

The ZYKFA offers its youth and adult members the opportunity to learn the Dragon Dance (舞龍). The ZYKFA currently has a youth size five person dragon and a nine person adult Luminescent Dragon (Glows-in-the-Dark).

What is Drum Array (鼓陣)?

The Drum Array, is a group performance where our students present a synchronized percussion piece to the public at festivals, banquets and general celebrations. It consists of the troupe playing drums, cymbals and gong in a fun, festive and powerful way, the group can be as small as three or up to ten people performing together. This performance is a great way to get a crowd excited by the powerful rhythms and sounds coming from the hard work of the musicians.  

Drum_ArrayThe Folk Performing Art classes, taught at the ZYKFA, offer a great way for students to work on stances, fluid power, musical ability and expressing their creativity. The Nature of these folk performances helps build a strong sense of belonging, both in the school and with the community at large. It takes many people to perform these routines; the musicians, the costumes, the performers and others must interplay with military precision.  These folk art performances are done at grand openings and special events to bring luck to the event and start it off with a bang, which is why the most common time to see them is during the Chinese New Year celebration.


Here are some events ZYKFA Folk Performing Arts Troupe has performed in:

  • Elvehjem Museum - opening of exhibit "Masterworks of Chinese Painting: In Pursuit of Mists and Clouds"
  • Purdue University Undergraduate Chinese Association (Indiana)
  • Taiwanese Students & Families Association
  • Chinese Student and Scholar Association
  • Malaysian Students Association
  • Vietnamese Students Association
  • Chinese Student Association
  • Confucius Institute (UW - Platteville) New Year Celebration
  • UW Varsity Band Concert at the Kohl Center (as seen on Channel 21 WHA - PBS)
  • Madison Holiday Festival Parade
  • Celebrate Madison
  • Dragon Boat Festival (Madison, Appleton, Green Bay and Racine, WI)
  • Fourth of July parade (Racine, WI)
  • ZYKFA members and family weddings
  • Several local Chinese businesses (Hong Kong Cafe, A Mart Asian Groceries, Red Lion Restaurant, etc) grand openings and New Years celebrations
  • Madison Area Families with Children from China (MFCC) New Year celebration
  • Racine Area Families with Children from China New Year celebration
  • Northeast Wisconsin Families with Children from China (Appleton) New Year celebration
  • Henry Vilas Zoo Benefit - Feast with the Beasts
  • UW Dance Prof. Li Chiao-ping's wedding
  • Prof. Li Chiao-ping's production "The Knotcracker" - Overture Center
  • Grand Opening of Chinese Language Classrooms
  • Watertown Library - Watertown, WI
  • Grand Opening of Action Kung Fu (Illinois)
  • Founders Day Parade - Crystal Lake, IL
  • Madison Area Chinese Culture Organization cultural presentations
  • Opening ceremonies for USKSF North Regional Championships
  • Opening ceremonies for USKSF International Championships
  • Opening ceremonies for Infinity National Kung Fu Championships
  • Opening ceremonies for Milwakee Martial Arts Open




You are here: Services Performances