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The Lion Kings and Queens

Photography and reporting by Kylie Cooper

Lion dance kings and queens: How tradition has bonded three generations - The Baltimore Banner

   For three generations, the Yau/Lam family has brought good fortune to Baltimore and the surrounding areas through lion dancing. At U.S. Jow Ga Martial Arts in the suburbs of Baltimore, they have found even more family.

   Benny Yau came to Baltimore in 1967 from Taishan, China. He quickly became involved in the city's Asian American community and helped organize Lunar New Year performances. Sifu of USJGMA Alex Lim calls Benny "the lion king of Baltimore."

   Benny taught the art form to his children, Winnie Lam and Donny Yau, when they were young. Now, Winnie's children, Emily and Eric, are junior instructors at USJGMA and passing on the knowledge to a new generation.

   I spent two months with the Yaus, Lams and USJGMA during practices and performances for the 2024 Lunar New Year season.