A member of the Choy Lee Fut lion dance team performs to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year at Chinatown in Sydney, Australia, on Jan. 24, 2021. (Photo by Jingchen Hu/Xinhua)
The director of a lion dance team in Sydney said the parade was a way to uplift people's spirits and bring them back into Chinatown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
SYDNEY, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- With plenty of drumming and cymbaling, a lion dance troupe marched through Sydney's Chinatown, bringing joy and vitality to both businesses and passers-by.
On the three past Sundays, Sydney Choy Lee Fut lion dance team performed in extreme heat or rain in order to promote the Chinatown precinct and attract patrons to come back as recent COVID-19 outbreaks in the state of New South Wales (NSW) subsided.
"The idea is that the pandemic has taken everyone out of Chinatown, a lot of businesses everywhere have shut down as we know, and everyone's spirits are a little bit low because of last year," Sydney Choy Lee Fut director Paul Nomchong told Xinhua.
"So this is a way to uplift their spirits and also bring people back into Chinatown," he said.
Choy Lee Fut, which runs Chinese Kung Fu, Qigong and lion dance classes, has been part of the Chinatown community for over 40 years.
The dance team performs to celebrate the upcoming Chinese lunar new year at Chinatown, Sydney, Australia, on Jan. 24, 2021.(Xinhua/Jingchen Hu)
Nomchong said many people have come to it to learn Chinese martial arts and developed love for lion dance, as the two were closely related.
"Traditionally, you train Kung Fu, which enables you to do lion dance, because the skill is all about the movement, the horse stance, and the footwork," he said.
"But nowadays, we teach everyone because it is something fun to do. It keeps you fit and healthy and strong. A lot of Westerners like this," he added.
Anna Lamont is a lion dance team member. She loves the lion dance and often volunteers to perform in her spare time.
"Since I was a child, I've always wanted to do Kung Fu ... I've been training at the school since 2017, and then obviously lion dance pretty much straight away," she said.
Lamont has found learning lion dance is both challenging and rewarding.
The dance team performs to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year at Chinatown in Sydney, Australia, on Jan. 24, 2021. (Photo by Jingchen Hu/Xinhua)
"In the beginning, it was challenging, because your body is not used to moving that way. Apart from remembering the routines and the steps, it was also learning how to handle the weight of the lion's head," she explained.
"But It's so versatile, you could learn so many skills through doing lion dance ... and the way everyone is here, it actually does make you feel like you're part of a big family," she further said.
Lamont, who was in charge of securing a grant for the performance, said it is important for the local community, especially the business community to have the feeling that things will get better.
"I think lion dance gives them that sort of cleansing that bad energy and bringing good luck," she said.
A child touches the costume of a local lion dance team at Chinatown in Sydney, Australia, on Jan. 24, 2021. (Photo by Jingchen Hu/Xinhua)
"And making everyone get the spirits up and feeling like, yeah, we can do this. We can get through this," she added.
Steve Chen from China's Taiwan agreed. Apart from cheering for businesses, he was glad that more people could get to know about traditional Chinese culture through the lion dance.
"To be honest, it's very exhausting, but I think even for me as a Chinese, it's a rare opportunity to get involved in the activity, and I'm honored to participate in it," he said.
"I think this is a kind of inheritance and I'll stick to it." ■