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[Canberra Times] Lion dance troupe celebrates Chinese New Year in Canberra

Article by Steven Trask, 27 January 2017

The Canberra Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance group are getting ready for the the Chinese New Year celebrations. Photo: Jamila Toderas

David Wong and his dancing lions were a strange sight to many Canberrans when they started performing a decade ago.

But these days the 35-year-old public servant and his 22-strong troupe are in such high demand they can barely keep up with bookings.

In 2007, Mr Wong founded the Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance troupe, performing traditional Chinese dance routines to slightly perplexed crowds around the city.

"It was a bit of a struggle getting it off the ground to start with," Mr Wong said.

"But over the years we have managed to build up a lot of awareness."

Mr Wong said Canberrans had quickly come to love the group, and with the Chinese New Year starting on Saturday, they were now generating as many as 20 bookings a week.

"We are the only team doing this in Canberra for now," he said.

"People weren't so sure about it at the start. But it was well received and everyone could see it was a good idea."

The ceremonial lion dance is performed on special occasions such as Chinese New Year to banish bad luck and bring prosperity.

Costumes are made from a mix of paper maché and bamboo and each requires the coordinated action of two people.

One dancer in front controls the facial movements of the lion and one behind controls the body.

As Canberra ushers in the Year of the Rooster on Saturday, the Prosperous Mountain troupe will be performing at the Lanyon Vikings Club in Tuggeranong.

Vikings Group operations manager Patrick Keogh said he was excited to give the community a cultural experience they would never forget.

"A lot of people from here come from different cultures. Every year we do something like this," he said.

"We're putting this on for the broader community so they can have a new cultural experience."


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