ShaoLin Center, Wisconsin’s premier school for traditional Chinese martial arts, Taoist healing practices and authentic southern lion dancing, officially dedicated its new studio at 400 Travis Lane on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Attending the festivities were honored guests Dan Vrakas, Waukesha County Executive, and Paul Farrow, newly elected State Senator for the 33rd District.
Both representatives took part in a traditional Chinese “Dotting of the Eyes” ceremony that is undertaken before a new lion can perform its first dance. According to the long-standing custom, red paint is circled around the lion’s eyes, applied to the inside of the mouth, and then brushed from the top of its head to the tip of its tail.
“This awakens the lion’s spirit and welcomes its presence into the world,” explained SiFu Steve Kleppe, owner and head instructor of ShaoLin Center. “It was such an honor and a pleasure to have Mr. Vrakas and Mr. Farrow take such an active role, and welcome these new lions along with us.”
The County Executive and the newly elected State Senator spoke to the fact that they enjoyed the festivities, and the introduction to another thriving small business in Waukesha – particularly one that focuses on uniting mind, body and spirit. Following the Open House, both were heading out to a number of other activities in the area, prompting them to observe that Waukesha County is, indeed, vibrant and thriving.
In addition to the lion ceremony, ShaoLin Center also invited students and guests to witness a celebration that not only paid respect to the school’s new location, but also honored SiFu Kleppe’s 30th anniversary as an instructor. Keeping with Chinese customs, wine and tea were “shared” with the community via a ritual where they are tossed from cups out the front door to signify that everyone is welcome. Gifts were also given, including a plaque for the school that serves as a reminder of its 30-year history in the community.
Led by SiFu Steve Kleppe, with over 40 years of experience including instruction at the temples in China, ShaoLin Center offers classes for all ages and interests in Tai Chi Chuan, QiGong, Yoga, and Traditional Southern and Northern Kung Fu. The school also boasts one of the largest lion dance groups in the Midwest.
Performances have been featured predominantly in conjunction with Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as the opening of the China exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum, a national conference hosted by Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, and other corporate and school events throughout the community at-large.