With the Lunar New Year set to tick over in early February, the Year of the Pig is nearly upon us.
A part of the cultural fabric throughout Eastern Asia, it’s long been celebrated in Australia by ethnic communities and over time has come to be embraced by the community at large.
David Wong, founder and troupe leader of Canberra’s Prosperous Mountain Dragon and Lion Dance (PMDLD), said the troupe are approaching their busiest time of year, with Lunar New Year celebrations already in full swing.
Wong has performed lion dance all his life, having been born in Malaysia and growing up in Western Australia.
When he moved to Canberra for work in 2007, Wong said he felt a little homesick, in part due to the fact there was no lion dance team here.
“I basically started one that year and launched it the following year … and tried to build awareness for the first five years, and over time have tried to build a following and support from government bodies, commercial groups and the community.”
With at least 14 performances locked in from 2 to 17 February, Wong says the excitement hasn’t quite hit the group yet.
“A lot of them are still on school holidays so they’re not thinking about it. But there is a bit of a buzz growing amongst the team; they’re asking about our performances.
Wong says PMDLD pride themselves on authentic cultural performances that they make as entertaining as possible through ornate costumes, flair and authenticity.
“We’re about keeping the culture as true as possible so the people in Canberra can appreciate that and they can relate to it if they go overseas and see something on par.”
While all of their performances have a storyline, performances featuring the pig are themed around family due to the composition of the word in Chinese text.
“A part of the Chinese character for pig uses the word house or home, so a lot of the themes are around home and coming back home,” Wong said.
One of the most special aspects of the lion dance troupe for Wong is the fact it’s an intergenerational team.
“Parents and grandparents perform alongside kids, which adds a family dynamic.
“There aren’t many extra-curricular activities that allow you to perform, celebrate and have a meal afterward with your family like you can with this,” he said.
For more information on PMDLD’s performances this Lunar New Year, visit canberraliondance.com