Zhi-Hen-LiI was born and raised in the lower east side of Manhattan, where Chinatown is located. Ever since I was young I have been fascinated by the Chinese New Years Parade that happens in the neighborhood, especially the Lion Dance.I desperately wanted to learn Lion Dance performance, but most Lion Dance groups only accepted Chinese members, not ABC (American Born Chinese) like myself. However, When I was in high school in 2002 I joined the Chinatown Community Young Lions, a group that accepted anyone with interest in Chinese heritage. After months of practice, I was finally allowed to play the lion head, and soon I became obsessed. I drew out possible mixtures of head, mouth, ear and eye movements. Thought about endlessly how I could stitch them together to make the Lion come alive. After all my hard work, I was able to perform in my first Chinese New Years parade in 2003.Today, after 12 years I am still part of the club, and although I’m not as active as I use to be, I try to participate as much as I can. My role has changed as well, and now I am teaching the new members of our club my style of Lion Dance. It’s time for the next generation to take on and continue this tradition.

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