KUCHING: Faizullah Nor Affendy’s interest in the lion dance began when he used to watch it performed at the Chin San Yan Temple near his parents’ home in Kampung Muara Tebas, about 30km from here.
He was about eight years old then.
The swift movements of the dancers including their unique acrobatic stunts accompanied by the pounding of drums, drew his interest and together with four friends, Faizullah taught himself how to perform the lion dance. Before long, his lion dance group was formed.
With the help of his uncle, they fashioned a lion’s costume, with a cardboard box for the lion’s “head”. Wooden sticks, empty tins as well as larger cans made up their version of musical instruments. They soon became known as the first lion dance troupe by the Malay children of Muara Tebas.
Faizullah, who is now in Form One at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bako, said response had been encouraging as his troupe has received many invitations to perform in the village, which is well known for its seafood restaurants.
“We had no formal training. We learn the art just by watching the lion dance performance at the Chin San Yan Temple,” he added.
A resident recorded one of the lion dance performances by Faizullah’s group and uploaded it on social media.
The video, which quickly went viral, earned the boys praise from viewers, including members of the Dragon and Lion Dance Association in Kuching.
A member of Faizullah’s lion dance group, Khamirul Ahmad, 16, said members of the Kuching Dragon and Lion Dance Association came to the village to meet them and presented them with a lion costume and musical instruments.
“In 2014, after the video went viral, more people came, especially during the Chinese New Year celebration, to watch us perform,” he added.
Another member of the group, Mohd Irfan Luthfi Mahadir, 15, said since receiving the association’s gifts, his troupe was now better equipped and had been invited to perform at weddings and visits of VIPs apart from the usual Chinese New Year celebrations.
“The Kuching Dragon and Lion Dance Association also took us to perform in Carpenter Street in the city and to the Dragon and Lion Dance competition at Kenyalang Park,” he added.