KUCHING: For the past 15 years, diminutive Awang Demit Awang Amig, or “Dumex” to his friends, will endure a punishing schedule a month before Chinese New Year.
That is the time when the 39-year-old practises virtually every night with other members of the Yu Sing Fukien Dramatic lion dance troupe.
His role is to lead the performers and at the same time carry the lion head, he said in an interview.
Fluent in several Chinese dialects, he has been a regular feature in the 55-year-old troupe that is actively involved in Chinese traditional dances and theatre.
The troupe is in demand during Chinese New Year and at private or government functions.
Awang Demit, who works in a private company, said one of his routines was dancing on a table. The moves required precise coordination among his team members and the stamina of a lion.
Recalling the events that led him to become a lion dancer, he said a friend took him to watch the troupe perform. He was hooked immediately.
“I was fascinated and instantly fell in love with the dance,” he said.
He said that at that time not many bumiputras particularly Malays were interested in the lion dance as they believed it was only meant for the Chinese community.
“I was fortunate that I speak Chinese very well and I was accepted easily into the troupe,” he said, adding that many bumiputras in Sarawak had since joined lion dance groups.
He said his troupe previously had many Iban youths but their numbers dwindled when they married and moved to other towns.
“The lion dance teaches you a lot about yourself and about the society you live in.
“Indirectly, it guides you on how to work in a team and directly it allows an individual to learn about Chinese culture, to better understand our multi-culturism and to feel more Malaysian,” he said.
Awang Demit and another member are the only Malays in the troupe. – Bernama
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