Interested in lion dance since childhood – Siti Aishah
GEORGE TOWN: After regularly watching her eldest brother’s performance in lion dance, Siti Aishah Mohd Farulnizam, 17, a teenager who recently went viral on social media, became interested in trying.
The Sacred Heart National Middle School student said her interest in learning the art of dance grew stronger when her father, Mohd Farulnizam Mohd Fisah and mother, Suzana Dhazak @ Razak and the whole family supported her.
She added that, with the advantage of speaking Mandarin, she had no problem communicating with all members of the association thus making it easier for him to understand more quickly everything taught by the coach of the Meihu Culture and Sports Association, Loh Woon Sim.
“When I was six years old, I always watched my brother enter the lion dance competition. From there, I became interested in trying. I asked my father for permission, he gave it, there was no objection.
“At first I was worried that my father wouldn’t allow me because I’m a girl, but thank God, not only my father, mother and family also supported me. I started from the age of six. At first, I learned to play musical instruments, including gongs, drums and so on. .
“After being good at playing musical instruments, I just learned the (lion) dance. I was nervous at first, but as time went on, I enjoyed it more,” she said .
She added that she is interested in lion dance because it requires high discipline in addition to being a tough activity.
“I started dressing up as a lion’s head at the age of nine, but at that time, I was just learning. I didn’t dare to enter competitions anymore. I was 10 years old when I dared to perform in front of an audience.
“With the experience I gathered from childhood, I have entered many competitions including the one that went viral recently. In a competition at one of the shopping malls that went viral recently, my group got fourth place.
“This is the competition for the 1st Southeast Asia Lion Dance Championship – Free Style,” added the native from Pulau Pinang.
Siti Aishah said that she and her group are determined to increase their training to win first place in the upcoming competition.
“We are training hard because our target is to win first place in the upcoming competition. If possible, we want to win first place in every competition.
“I am aware that it is not easy but if there is will and enough training, it is not impossible that we can do it. Even though I am Muslim, my friends in the association have never distinguished me from them, in fact, even my ‘lion’s tail’ is the son of a coach who named Loh Foong Kee,” she said.
When asked about the training session schedule, Siti Aishah said that the training held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday did not interfere with her studies because it was conducted at night.
“In fact, the practice site is also close to my house, about one kilometer. After all, practice is held at night, so it doesn’t interfere with my school and study time.
“Regarding challenges during training, falling a little bit, bumping my head is normal. It doesn’t break my spirit at all to continue training in achieving the group’s dream of winning every competition we enter,” she said.
Recently, on the TikTok application, a video went viral showing a girl fully clothed as a ‘lion’s head’ while performing a lion dance in a competition.
Given the responsibility to be in the front position, the girl who is Siti Aishah managed to steal the attention of netizens because she was able to control every step of the dance even though she was not Chinese.
In addition, his dancing dexterity with a mesmerizing dance received lively cheers from the audience who were close to the location of the event, especially when she ‘released’ the costume she was wearing.
Meanwhile, Siti Aishah’s father, Mohd Farulnizam admitted that he was proud when he saw that his six children were able to master the cultural art of the lion dance and that they became proof of cultural art across racial boundaries in this country.
According to him, all six of his children, Mohammad Firdaus, 19; Siti Aishah, 17; Mohd Faiz, 16; Mohamad Fahmi, 13; Siti Alya, 9, and Siti Aleesa, 7, are proficient in the art of lion dance performance as they are members of the Penang Meihu Cultural and Sports Association.
“All my children go to a national type school and they are good at speaking Mandarin. I sent my eldest son to learn lion dance to discipline him. Unexpectedly, his interest was followed by his younger siblings as well.
“For me, it is better that the children like this kind of activity than for them to do activities that are not beneficial. I am not worried about the children undergoing training because I know all the members of the association. In fact, those who will come pick up and send the children for training,” he explained.
Farulnizam, who is also a trader, said he chose lion dance as an activity for his children to make them more disciplined.
“Children are more disciplined when learning this dance art because in this art, it applies a high discipline among the dance players.
“They have to be on time, can’t smoke and have to respect everyone regardless of race and religion. I’m proud when children are very interested in this art without coercion.
“Despite that, religion itself remains a priority. There is nothing wrong with learning the culture of other races, as long as it does not conflict with Islam,” he said.