Lion dancing for anyone with the passion and willingness to train

Lion dancing for anyone with the passion and willingness to train

Over the years, lion dancing has opened up to a wider group of people, with passion and physicality being the only requirements

KUALA LUMPUR – There is no retirement age for a lion dance performer as long as one remains passionate about the art and is physically able to keep the pace, according to lion dance veteran Albert Fong Kong Yip.

The co-founder and chief instructor of the Khuan Loke Dragon & Lion Dance Association said the desire to learn and persistence to train are the most important qualities if one wants to be part of a troupe.

Fong, 47, has been lion dancing for 34 years, having started at the age of 13.

“I started my lion dance journey because of my father Fong Tin Low, who is the founder of this troupe.

“We have about 50 local members and 20 international members,” he told The Vibes.

While there is neither a minimum age requirement to join a troupe nor a retirement age, Fong said lion dance performers typically begin their training from a young age, and most members are between the ages of 13 and 50.

“We are happy to teach the art to anyone, including schoolchildren of any age, as long as they are willing to learn.

“The most crucial qualification in lion dance is being physically strong and passionate about the art form. So, anyone who fulfils that is more than welcome to join our troupe,” he said.

Fong added that it is not easy to replace a lion dancer when one leaves the troupe or decides to retire.

While there are different roles in lion dancing, such as cymbalists and drummers beside the dancers, he said it is often more difficult to find a suitable replacement for a dancer as the person will require some acrobatic skills.

Lion dancing has opened up to include more women and non-Chinese performers, reflecting a multiracial Malaysia. – Pic courtesy of Khuan Loke Dragon & Lion Dance Association

Other changes that lion dancing has seen over the years has been the participation of more women performers.

When it was first brought to Malaysia through martial arts schools by Chinese migrants, lion dancing was dominated by men, but over time, more females took an interest in it as well.

And in multi-racial Malaysia, non-Chinese are also found as performers in lion dance troupes.

While lion dances are most visible during Chinese New Year, Fong said his troupe also keeps busy at other times of the year, as they are invited to perform at housewarmings and company launches.

Having a troupe perform at one’s home or business premises is done in the belief that the dance will scare away bad spirits and bring good luck.

source – The Vibes

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