A lion dance show is something that everyone in Malaysia is familiar with and as the Chinese New Year draws near, we get to see more of it happening around us.
Watching a lion dance show can be exciting as the beat of the drums and cymbals coupled with the colourful lion’s deft moves make for an entertaining display. At the Lion, Dragon And Unicorn Dance Festival held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah last weekend, audiences got to see a lion dance show that was uniquely local and entertaining.
The Penampang Youth Lion Dance Club troupe put on a show that combined not only the traditional music of Sabah, but also a couple of traditional dance elements, too.
The performance was choreographed as a skit involving a lion, a man dressed in traditional Kadazandusun attire and a Proboscis monkey doll. It is the Year of the Monkey, after all.
During the skit, the lion dances around trying to catch the monkey and placing him on coconut trees, while the man teases the lion by hiding the monkey. The lion also does the magunatip, a traditional Murut dance that involves bamboo poles. It is a tricky dance for beginners as it tests one’s agility – if you can’t keep up with the beat (it normally starts with a slow beat and grows faster with each turn), be prepared to get your feet trapped between the bamboo poles.
Now imagine being in a lion dance costume and performing that stunt.
The lion also does its own four-legged version of the sumazau, a traditional Kadazandusun dance, with the man.
A video of the special lion dance show was posted by Murphy Ng, a Sabahan who runs the page Borneo Frog on Facebook and blog called MySabah.com. A snippet of the video on Borneo Frog has been viewed more than 350,000 times and has almost 18,000 shares as of Jan 26. The full video is more than 10 minutes long and is available on Ng’s YouTube page.
The Lion, Dragon And Unicorn Dance Festival is an annual event in Sabah that features more than 60 lion, dragon and unicorn dance troupes from all over the state. It is organised by The United Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu; Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman officiated this year’s event on Jan 23.