Couple who just love dragon and lion dance

Enter the dragon: Memey and Samsudin getting ready to rehearse the dragon dance in Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE /The Star

KUCHING: Memey Syuhaida Dunggat and her husband Samsudin Azman are a couple that dance together. And it’s not ballroom dancing or disco.

The two perform together as members of the Sarawak Jing Ying Dragon and Lion Dance Association’s troupe, which has about 30 members – half of them non-Chinese.

The couple had long been attracted by lion and dragon dances even before they married two years ago.

Memey, a Muslim convert of Iban-Bidayuh heritage, said her interest in lion and dragon dances came from watching performances over the years.

However, she only started learning the dances when she joined the association in 2022.

“I realised that you don’t have to be Chinese to perform the dragon or lion dance. People from other races are also interested in performing the dance.

“At first I was quite shy about learning because I felt that it was not my culture. But the association members told me not to worry because I was interested in it.

“They didn’t have any doubts about taking me in,” she said.

Memey recalled that she was stiff and awkward initially, but she was taught the lion and dragon dances step by step.

She performs the dragon dance only as she is still in the process of learning the lion dance.

“The dragon dance is easier because it’s mainly following the steps of the person in front of you.

“The lion dance is more difficult as it involves leaping moves and even climbing on pillars sometimes,” she said.

Memey added that Samsudin could perform both the dragon and lion dances.

“Both of us are in the association. When they are short of performers, they will call us to perform, especially during Chinese New Year,” she said.

Samsudin said his interest began when he was growing up in Kampung Keranji in Bau near here.

“I went to a Chinese school and there were processions in my village during Chap Goh Mei.

“When I was younger the processions scared me. I would run away crying because the lions and dragons seemed to be alive.

“But later on I became interested in the performances. I even made lion costumes out of boxes and tried to dance,” he said.

Samsudin added that he was already performing the dances before marrying Memey.

“After we got married, she came along with me since she was also interested in the dances,” he said.

Kelvin Chong from the association said it was not a problem having other races in their group.

“This is Sarawak and we are all fellow Sarawakians,” he said.

Chong also said the association had more than 30 lion costumes and seven to eight dragons.

“For this Chinese New Year, we have a new dragon costume coming which will be 68m long and requires 24 performers,” he added.

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