The Chung Wah Society Dragon and Lion Dance troupe is a collective of dedicated members who train and perform this traditional art form brought to Australia by the early Chinese settlers in the NT. The society itself was established in 1946.
The troupe consists of three groups, the Senior Team, the Intermediates and our next generation, the Juniors. Each of these groups plays a part in upholding this traditional dance form and instilling the values of teamwork, integrity and a sense of family.
They get together each weekend to train at their hall. Each lion (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Dragon) consists of two dancers, one who dances as the head and the other, as the base.
Both work together to bring the lion to life. The troupe also consists of talented musicians who play the instruments which the lions dance to. The level of physicality during performance demands that all members train in strength and endurance. Living and training in a tropical climate has made the troupe stronger.
Our busiest period is Chinese New Year and 2017, Year of the Rooster, was certainly an energetic period of dancing spread over a period of 2 weeks. The troupe danced and performed blessings across approximately 350 businesses and events. In the beginning, the lions danced only for the Chinese owned businesses, however, now it has grown to include everyone and anyone.
During a blessing performance, the lions carry the good spirit of our temple (located on Woods Street) into the business and it is believed to scare away evil spirits and bring prosperity, good luck and happiness. The lions will start with three bows to pay respect, and then move throughout the area before being called back by the drum to eat the offering, usually hung at the entrance.
The offering consists of a lucky red packet and some form of green, which the lion will eat and then spit out, returning the wealth back into the business.
The Senior team worked hard to fundraise and were fortunate to be a part of the Bendigo Easter Festival in 2016, which saw different troupes from across Australia attending the festivities.
The troupes each performed in a showcase and also walked the parades, to the delight of the crowds. The CWS troupe (for some of whom was the first time going to such an event), used this opportunity to build friendships with likeminded individuals who share the same love for dancing, hone some skills and experience the
performances from other troupes first hand.
From the clash of cymbals, the steadfast beats of the drum or the life like movements of lion, there is never a dull moment when it comes to lion dancing. Next time you are out and about in Darwin, listen out for the drum and you might just see a lion.