The best lion dance troupes in the world as well as fans of the art came together last weekend (15th – 17th July) for the 12th Genting World Lion Dance Championship 2016 at Arena of Stars, Resorts World Genting.

This year’s competition drew a total of 39 lion dance troupes from 15 countries – US, China, France, Chile, Australia, Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Malaysia – that were roaring to go to a battle for the title of world champion.

15 teams competed in the preliminary rounds on 15th and 16th July (Friday and Saturday) and 10 teams with the highest points qualified for the finals to challenge the defending champion of the 11th Genting World Lion Dance Championship, Kun Seng Keng Lion And Dragon Dance Association from Muar, Johor.

Also representing Malaysia in the finals were 2 other teams from East and West Malaysia: Pertubuhan Kebudayaan Kesenian Dan Kesukanan Tawau Sabah and Kwong Ngai Lion Dance Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

With 3 Malaysian troupes in the finals and the presence of some of the world’s greatest lion dance performers competing for the highly coveted The World Lion Dance Champion title, the pressure was on.

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A competition of such prestige and recognition is not without some judging criteria as well as strict rules and regulations, and failure to abide by them will resulting in a deduction of marks.

For example, each lion troupe must consist of not more than 10 people (1 leader, 1 coach, and 8 members) and a minimum of 6 or a maximum of 8 members are required to take part in the competition. Each team is required to use the Southern Lion with props for their performance but a standard prop of stilts will be provided. All performances can start from any point of the prop, but they have to reach the highest point and finish at any point of the prop in not less than 8 minutes and not more than 12 minutes.

Points are rewarded for coordination and standard of movements (styles and coordination of lion’s head and tail), art and expression (including the lion’s synchronisation with the music), and the accuracy in completing difficulty moves. On the other hand, points can be deducted for falls (seriousness levels of falls vary) or if the performing team is unable to complete the performance.

A panel of 9 judges will decide on the troupes’ marks, with 2 highest marks and 2 lowest marks eliminated to award a final score of the average of the 5 remaining marks. The team with the highest score will then emerge winner of the respective round.

With months of training for every carefully choreographed jump, move, and spin at the mercy of a careless slip of the foot or the miscounting of a beat, the troupes had everything at stake. As such, watching the world-class teams compete in the finals was truly an eye-opening experience.

The Chinese Taipei Dragon & Lion Dance Federation A Team – University of Taipei put on an impressive performance with a beautiful white and silver Southern Lion, completing 17 difficulty moves without a hitch.

Fun fact: Different colours are used to signify the age and character of the lions. The lion with white fur is considered to be the oldest of the lions, while the lion with golden yellow fur is the middle child. The black lion is considered the youngest lion, and the movement of this lion should be fast like a young child or a headstrong teenager. The colours may also represent the character of the lion: the golden lion represents liveliness, the red lion courage, and the green lion friendship. (Wiki)

Upon completing their performance, the lead and 2nd dancer from the Chinese Taipei Dragon & Lion Dance Federation A Team – University of Taipei emerged fist-pumping and embracing their team members in what looked like a victorious yet emotional moment. The troupe would later go on to bag 3rd place (trophy, medals, and USD3,000 in cash prize) in the 12th Genting World Lion Dance Championship 2016.

In 2nd place was the Guangdong Shan Wei Yixin Bi Ling Tang troupe from China who displayed their unique footwork and perfect synchronisation with their instrumental team, complete with backflips on cue from all performing members.

Fun fact: The Southern Lion dance originated from Guangdong, and there are 2 main styles of Guangdong or Cantonese Lion: the Fut San or Fo Shan (佛山; literally: “Buddha Mountain”), and the Hok San or He Shan (鹤山; literally: “Crane Mountain”), both named after their place of origin. (Wiki)

It is no surprise that their well-timed choreography and high energy performance would earn them a place in the top 3 winners of the 12th Genting World Lion Dance Championship 2016. The troupe went home with a trophy, medals, and USD6,000 in cash prize.

Last but not least, the jaw-dropping moment when the defending champion of the 11th Genting World Lion Dance Championship, Kun Seng Keng Lion And Dragon Dance Association from Muar, Johor, took the floor for their award-winning performance.

Fun fact: The Kun Seng Keng Lion And Dragon Dance Association has an impressive track record of awards. As of 2014, the team has 55 international championship titles and 65 national championship titles tucked under its belt, and are 10-time Genting Lion Dance World Championship champions. The troupe’s success even inspired local filmmaker Matt Lai to make an inspirational movie titled, “The Great Lion – Kun Seng Keng“.

Not only did they turn out to be the only team with the most props (perhaps due to the home ground advantage, while other teams were required to ship their props in) and the best creative opening, they also completed 18 difficulty moves with perfect strength, posture, and synchronisation. They may have been the 5th group out of 11 groups to perform at the finals, but it was a no-brainer that the trophy was already in the bag for them the moment their epic performance wrapped up.

The Kun Seng Keng Lion And Dragon Dance Association went home with the 1st place trophy, medals, and a cash prize of USD10,000 that night.

Special thanks to our friends from Resorts World Genting for having us at the 12th Genting World Lion Dance Championship 2016!

Other notable moments from finals include:

  1. When the FOBI Kong Ha Hong Lion Dance troupe from Indonesia had a girl on the lead drum, which was uncommon but very impressive.
  2. When the Pertubuhan Kebudayaan Kesenian Dan Kesukanan Tawau Sabah team made the audience laugh with this cute hula hoop move.
  3. When the Kwong Ngai Lion Dance Kuala Lumpur Malaysia troupe blew our minds pulling off acrobatic/kung fu moves while walking on tightropes.

For more information, hit up Resorts World Genting’s Facebook page.

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