Friday, June 23, 2017
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Ringing in the year of the monkey

Year of the Monkey it may be, but all eyes will be on the lions and the dragons.

Into the lion’s den: Dancers prepare to perform at a Chinese New Year’s competition at Junction Square, Yangon. Photos: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar TimesInto the lion’s den: Dancers prepare to perform at a Chinese New Year’s competition at Junction Square, Yangon. Photos: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar Times

February 8 sees in the Chinese New Year, to be marked throughout the world, including in Yangon, with the customary celebrations.

One of the most dramatic will be provided by teams of lion and dragon dancers, gorgeously costumed and breathtakingly acrobatic.

Breathtaking acrobatics capture the audience’s attention. Breathtaking acrobatics capture the audience’s attention.

The dance troupes are particularly in demand for their association with good luck and profit, hence the many invitations they receive to perform on company premises, bringing the throb of drums and the clash of cymbals to the marbled halls of commerce.

In fact, they’ve already begun. The Lion and Dragon Dance Competition at Junction Square, held between January 30 and February 2, saw a dozen dance groups compete for the US$2000 prize.

Drums and gongs provide the rhythm for the lion dancers.Drums and gongs provide the rhythm for the lion dancers.

And from tonight until February 7, at the Capital Hyper Mart on Min Nandar Street, Dawbon township, six lion dance groups and more dragon dance groups will perform.

A young performer takes in the atmosphere at the Junction Square competition.A young performer takes in the atmosphere at the Junction Square competition.

“We hold this kind of lion dance contest not for profit, but to maintain our traditions. The dance is open to all, without distinction as to religion or skin colour,” said U Myo Lwin of the Myanmar Dragon and Lion Dancing Association Group, organisers of the event at Sint Oh Dan Street, which was founded in 2006.

A dance team takes a break backstage.A dance team takes a break backstage.

Also in Sint Oh Dan Street, starting on February 9 – the second day of the lunar new year – to February 13, 12 lion dance teams will compete for the final six places to win a first prize of $1500.

Some people want to work, some just want to bang on the drum all day.Some people want to work, some just want to bang on the drum all day.

“It costs too much to build a lion dance group,” said 29-year-old Ko Aung Naing, general manager of the Pearlblack Lion Dance Association, Yangon. “But after years of practice, we’ve developed our traditional lion dance into a performance by a spoilt teenage boy who loves to dance using Chinese traditional material arts.”

His group, founded in 2002, has 30 teenage members and has won more than 20 prizes.