Teenagers learn Peranakan dances

Vibrant heritage: The dancers from 5678 Dance Studio posing with Chinese New Year decorations at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Church Street, George Town. — KT GOH/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Nine teenage dancers looking resplendent in their Nyonya costumes took centre stage at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion here.

The fusion of traditional Nyonya costumes and the historical backdrop of the mansion at Church Street provided a captivating blend of cultural and visual splendour.

Among those snapping photos with the dancers from 5678 Dance Studio was the mansion’s museum director Lillian Tong.

She commended Peter Koay, the dance studio director, for assembling the group of girls and teaching them Peranakan dances.

Tong, who is the Penang Peranakan Baba Nyonya Association president, said this would ensure that the culture lived on for generations to come.

“We also actively promote Peranakan culture with the annual Dondang Sayang procession which is held on Chap Goh Meh.

“This year’s procession will be grander as we will be working with the consulate-general of China in Penang,” she added.

Tong said the Peranakan are very enthusiastic about participating in Chinese New Year events.

“The celebration bears many similarities, with a slight variation in the culinary offerings during the family gathering on the eve of Chinese New Year.

“Both cultures have jiu hu char, a medley of thinly julienned turnips and other vegetables like cabbages and carrots with dried cuttlefish.

“Richer Peranakan families tend to also have pee hu char which is a more decadent dish as it uses pee hu (dried sole), an expensive ingredient,” she said.

The Peranakan are descended from early Chinese settlers in maritime South-East Asia, particularly in British colonial ports in the Malay Peninsula, Indonesian Archipelago and Singapore.

Their culture, prominent in Melaka, Singapore, Penang, Phuket and Tangerang, is characterised by a blend of traditional Chinese customs with local culture, developed over centuries through cultural exchanges and intermarriage.

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