JOHOR BARU: The lion dance is synonymous with Chinese New Year. And Malaysians should be proud to note that local lion dance troupes have been making big waves in the international arena.
According to International Dragon and Lion Dance Federation vice chairman Leong Lik Thong, Malaysian teams had won almost 90% of international-level competitions.
"The Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association in Muar, for example, has won the World Championship 15 times since the event started in 1983," he told The Star.
GROOMING TASK: Kee touching up some lion heads at the association's centre in Johor Baru Tuesday.
The future looks bright for the cultural dance-cum-sport in the country, with many youths keen to pick it up.
Leong estimated that there were about 3,000 lion dancers in some 60 associations in the country, some 60% of them aged 16 years and below.
"We had a training camp at the Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association's centre in November, and the 180 spots were immediately snapped up," said Leong.
He said many started training as young as nine years old, adding that even girls and non-Chinese had expressed interest.
Meanwhile, Persatuan Jasmani Pak Hock deputy secretary Kee Poo Woo, who had been in the lion dance field for 35 years, said each troupe member would specially train for a part.
"It is not easy. One has to train hard to master a particular role," he said.
"I'm too old now. I cannot keep up with the young ones, so I help with the repairs of the equipment."