All-girls lion dance troupe from Ipoh set to entertain, break gender barriers

It is normal to see boys performing the lion dance. However, Perak Girls School has broken the glass ceiling early this year when it formed the first all-girls lion dance troupe. — Pix by Farhan Najib
It is normal to see boys performing the lion dance. However, Perak Girls School has broken the glass ceiling early this year when it formed the first all-girls lion dance troupe. — Pix by Farhan Najib

IPOH, March 13 — It is normal to see boys perform the lion dance.

However, Perak Girls School at Jalan Raja Permaisuri Bainun has gone ahead to form the first all-girls lion dance troupe.

School principal Wong Sook Kuin said the school’s Board of Governors had wanted to have the troupe since 2016.
School principal Wong Sook Kuin said the school’s Board of Governors had wanted to have the troupe since 2016.

School principal Wong Sook Kuin said the school’s board of governors had actually wanted to have the troupe since 2016.

“But as funding was a problem, we only managed to start the troupe this year as part of the school’s co-curriculum activity after successfully getting sponsors for two lion heads, one drum and a pair of cymbals,” she said.

Speaking to Malay Mail when met at the school recently, Wong said somehow the timing was just right as one of the students’ parents was also a vice-chairman of the Perak Wushu, Lion and Dragon Dance Federation.

“Everything just seems to fall into place from there onwards,” she added.

The parent Wong Wai Leng said as the students are girls, their performances are not that aggressive as boys’.

A father, Wong Wai Leng, said as the students are girls, their performances are not as aggressive as boys’.
A father, Wong Wai Leng, said as the students are girls, their performances are not as aggressive as boys’.
There is no jumping from pillar to pillar. Their performance is only confined to the ground.
There is no jumping from pillar to pillar. Their performance is only confined to the ground.

“There is no jumping from pillar to pillar. Their performance is only confined to the ground,” said the father, adding that the lion head they carry are also not the normal sized heads used in lion dance performances.

“There are three sizes – S, M and L – lion heads. The girls use the M sized heads, that is lighter,” added Wai Leng.

Wai Leng, whose twin 15-year-old are also in the troupe, said he did not mind his daughters joining the troupe.

“This will ensure the culture is passed on to the future generation,” he added.

The troupe’s coach Mak Tuck Kong said he faced difficulties when teaching the girls.To avoid getting accused of sexual harassment, there is no bodily contact with the girls.
The troupe’s coach Mak Tuck Kong said he faced difficulties when teaching the girls.To avoid getting accused of sexual harassment, there is no bodily contact with the girls.

The troupe’s coach Mak Tuck Kong said he did face difficulties when teaching the girls.

“To avoid getting accused for sexual harassment, there is no bodily contact with the girls. I can only teach them through visually,” said Mak, who is an award winning lion dance troupe coach.

Mak said while the girls only started learning the art early this year, he was quite satisfied with their performance.

“There is still room for improvement. They just need to put in more training,” he said, adding that the troupe now trains twice weekly, on Mondays and Saturdays.

One of the troupe member Nor Narish Esma Ezrul Ariffin said she had fun in the troupe where she learnt about teamwork.

The Form Two student, who is in charge of the cymbals, said her parents encouragement further fuelled her interest in the art.

Wai Leng’s daughters Mei Fong and Mei Dan said the performance teaches them to persevere.

Mei Fong, who takes the tail, said she suffers from back pain.

“But I have since learned to grit my teeth and bear with it,” said the 15-year-old.

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