Posts Tagged ‘Lion Dance’

YEAR OF THE ROOSTER

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the barongsai at Global Prestasi School

It never grows old no matter what happens or what people say. Every time I hear that the troupe will be coming to Global Prestasi School (GPS) to usher in the Chinese New Year, I am always filled with excitement. The barongsai, as the dragon or lion dance is called in Indonesia, never fails to ignite this child-like enthusiasm in me, banishing morose thoughts temporarily. The moment I hear that they’ve arrived, I’d drop what I’m doing and run to the main grounds of GPS to get a good spot to watch those colourful, swirling dragon-lions.

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one of the dragon-lion prepping for the dance

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This year is my year. According to Chinese astrology, I was born under the year of the rooster and if it’s your animal that is the ruling animal of the year, you are in for one auspicious year. To know that lady luck is your constant companion for a year – she won’t be making her presence greatly known until after 12 years – does one’s spirits more than some good. You feel this overwhelming sense of confidence commingling with positivity which leads to a general sense of well-being. Simply put, a force field of positive energy has been placed around you thus any sad or tragic news thrown your way by fate is met with more gumption than fear.

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It was not like I was cowering in fear all throughout the 12 years lady luck was just hovering at the periphery as another animal took centre stage.  Looking back, several years were indeed fraught with tension and grief, but those years galvanised me taking me out of the rut I was in. I was admittedly chary – am still am – but those years prepared me slowly to take on the world again. One can say it prepared me for the year of the rooster, the year I see as the year of splendiferous moments and glorious feelings.

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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.

BARONGSAI WONDER

The dragon waits patiently for the dance to begin.

The dragon waits patiently for the dance to begin.

While Kelvin G., a student of mine, finds it a humdrum affair I find it absolutely exciting. His blasé attitude comes from having watched the barongsai since he was born. “It is nothing new for me,” he says in an uninterested tone. Point taken, but it is like saying that putting up the Christmas tree is boring, which is another activity I look forward to.  The barongsai (lion) and liong (dragon) dance is one of the events that Global Prestasi School (GPS) holds to welcome the new Chinese zodiac sign. Classes are cancelled throughout the three units – elementary, junior, and senior high school – and numerous activities (i.e. lantern- making, fashion show, and dance performances) are held in each unit that culminates with the barongsai-liong at the main ground of GPS.

The Lion Dance gets underway to usher in prosperity in Global Prestasi School.

The Lion Dance gets underway to usher in prosperity in Global Prestasi School.

The beating of the drum gives the lions and dragon the rhythm to move in the spacious ground.

The beating of the drum gives the lions and dragon the rhythm to move in the spacious ground.

The blue lion waits for his cue to get the hong bao and Mandarin orange.

The blue lion waits for his cue to get the hong bao and Mandarin orange.

There is, unfortunately, always a hitch with the barongsai-liong because of the intermittent rain. December to middle of February is the rainy season in Indonesia. Sheets of rain morosely wrap the country in a curtain of mildew and gloom during the period, which peters out during February. But it is like playing hide-and-seek with the sun when you hold outdoor activities before the end of the rainy season.  Normally, everything is set up on the main ground, but everyone suddenly crams into the smaller lobby of the school when it rains. The Lion Dance troupe find themselves performing in a tight space packed with the entire school watching. The Year of the Horse proved more auspicious than last year’s dance because the sun was out.  Benches for the spectators were laid out in the main ground, a stage was constructed in front of the lobby, and the Lion Dance troupe had a very spacious area to sashay, dip, and get the hong bao and Mandarin orange strung on a branch.

A sea of red inundated GPS on the eighth day of the Lunar New Year. Amidst the crowd of young and old, the acrobatic crew swirled and jumped to the beat of the drum. I, as always, watched in quiet awe. The Horse has galloped into GPS bringing with it positive vibes, abundant energy, and strength for self-improvement.

The lions and dragon have arrived for Imlek, local term for Chinese New Year, bringing with them positive energy and prosperity.

The lions and dragon have arrived for Imlek, local term for Chinese New Year, bringing with them positive energy and prosperity.