Lion dance is an important part of traditional Chinese vaudeville. With long history, lion dance appears frequently in the festival celebrations such as the Spring Festival, expressing the wishes of the Chinese people to pray for good luck and prevent disasters through the lively and joyful performances. Lion dance in different parts of China has different forms and distinct characteristics. It is generally divided into two categories: the southern lion and the northern lion. The southern lion is vigorous and fierce with more difficult skills when performed. Performed by frolicking, the northern lion is more charming and lovely.
There are two kinds of lion dance in Beijing, "Tai Lion" and "Shao Lion". A solo performance is called "Tai Lion". "Shao Lion" is performed by two people, one playing the lion's head and the other playing the lion's tail.
Baizhifang Tai lion was a popular folk dance form in Beijing. It originated from Baizhifang Tai Lion Lao Hui (an ancient traditional folk activity), Xuanwu District, Beijing.
It is said that was founded in the fifth year of Qianlong (1740) and in the ninth year of Tongzhi (1870) of the Qing Dynasty, Li Tingpu and Chen Zihe, two of the most powerful families in the Baizhifang area, came to reorganize the activity. Chen Zihe, a fourth-grade official in the Gunpowder Bureau, redesigned the shape of the Tai Lion based on the stone lion in front of the gate of Taihe Palace in the Forbidden City. The lion body is about 1.2 zhang, and lion head weight about 70 jin. Chen also hired Liu Wu, a lion dance artist in Yongan Bridge of Yongdingmen, to teach performance skills.
Since the reform of Baizhifang Tai Lion in the fifth year of Tongzhi reign (1866), the development and inheritance was clear and orderly. The first generation of lion dance artist was Liu Wu; the second generation was an artist named Lu; the third generation was the son of Lu; the fourth generation was He Jinyu, the former worker of Baizhifang Printing Bureau; and the fifth generation was Ding Bingliang; the sixth generation was Liu Dehai, a famous Tai Lion artist and retired worker of Beijing Banknote Printing Factory; and the seventh generation was Wang Jianwen, a retired worker of Beijing Banknote Printing Factory. In 1956, the Beijing Banknote Printing Factory where Liu Dehai worked set up a lion dance team and purchased a full set of costumes and props. Liu Dehai was responsible for teaching the lion dance skills. At present, the main performance activities are organized and led by Beijing Banknote Printing Factory.