BARONGSAI WONDER

The dragon takes to the skies at the Global Prestasi School.

The dragon takes to the skies at the Global Prestasi School.

While a former student of mine is bored out of his wits with the barongsai, as the lion dance is called in Indonesia, I am always filled with excitement and look forward to the barongsai troupe arriving in Global Prestasi School (GPS) and performing. The beautifully crafted lions, together with the dragon, never fail to make me goggle at their colours, the performers, and the huge drums sitting quietly at one corner. What is it with the barongsai that makes me all giddy like a little school girl left in a candy store that is right next to a library? For a moment, once the lion dance performers take centre stage and dazzle the spectators with their jaw-dropping acrobatic movements, a wave of serenity descends upon me, quieting the din of doubt and niggling thoughts. A wave of hope falls gently on me, while the dragon zigzagged and the lions capered. A sense of calm envelops me – did the higher beings make a tabula rasa of my topsy-turvy world? It feels that way and everything is copacetic, for now.

the dragon comes alive 2

the dragon comes alive 3This year’s performance was off to a very auspicious note. For starters, the dark clouds and sheets of rain gave way to a mantle of blue and yellow. Below, it was a sea of red in all shades and sizes, with some holding angpao, red envelopes filled with money, to give to the lions. As the grounds of GPS swelled with students, teachers, and parents from its elementary to senior high units, the drums came to life with its steady syncopated rhythm, urging the resting dragon to wake up. As if a tribute to the majestic dragon, the troupe took to the stage to showcase movements of the Chinese martial arts called Wushu. Short, sharp thrusts with the arms in mid air, half splits on the ground finished with thumping by the hands, and round house kicks in the air, they dazzled the audience with the ease of their movement, flexibility, and agility. Then the dragon awoke sending the troupe scampering to the sides.

The troupe gets a feel of the ambience at GPS.

The troupe gets a feel of the ambience at GPS.

The dragon tests the area of GPS prior to the performance at 10am that February 27.

The dragon tests the area of GPS prior to the performance at 10am that February 27.

The ground of GPS is washed in a sea of red.

The ground of GPS is washed in a sea of red.

Behind the scene: the lion heads at rest.

Behind the scene: the lion heads at rest.

Behind the scene: lion heads and drum

Behind the scene: lion heads and drum

Flying, circling, swirling and dipping, the dragon chased away the negative energy, replacing it with the humming vibrancy of the new Lunar year until it was time for the lions to take centre stage. This year’s lions were yellow fringed with crimson that capered, wiggled, and played with the young students of the elementary unit. Finally, it was time to jump up and claim the angpao hanging from a branch – a gift from GPS. Victorious!

A peak behind the scene of the barongsai - the dragon sits quietly in a corner.

A peak behind the scene of the barongsai – the dragon sits quietly in a corner.

An hour before the sun towered over our heads, the lions gracefully sashayed off the grounds, but not before showering the community of GPS with good tidings and bountiful of positive energy. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Playing coy, the lion bides his time before banishing the negative energy.

Playing coy, the lion bides his time before banishing the negative energy.

The lion turns his attention to the audience before him.

The lion turns his attention to the audience before him.

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