Chinese New Year is on Saturday but the festivites are already underway.
Many people are already familiar with traditional Lion Dancing, but one group is taking their routine to new heights.
The Wah Ngai Lion Dance Assocation has entertained fans for the past 15 years. Over the years they’ve transformed traditional lion dancing with their own unique twist.
“It’s not really a traditional lion dance to be up on platforms it’s kind of an adaptation to the traditional lion dance,” Peter Lau said, member of the Wah Ngai Lion Dance Association.
The non-profit organization spends months preparing for their annual Chinese New Year performances.
“We practice in all sorts of kung fu and so before you can even get on the platforms behind me you need to be pretty well versed in core strength and emotion of the lion, how to carry your partners,” said Lau.
So what does it take to be one of these high flying performers?
“We need flexbility and a lot of stamina to jump on the poles and to not be so tired when we get up there,” Randon Luke said, performer for Wah Ngai Lion Dance Association.
“On his part it’s a lot tougher than it seems. He’s putting his entire trust in me, it’s very dangerous. The poles are about 6 to 7 feet high and one wrong move and we’re coming down hard,” Justin Santiago said, performer for Wah Ngai Lion Dance Association.
Jumping from platform to platform isn’t the only challenge these dancers face. This year, Wah Ngai has incorporated a hula hoop in their routine.
Besides the physical routine, the performers must also convey the story behind the dance.
“The lion is telling a story of climbing up a mountain to retrieve the flower of immortality and that flower of immortality, you know, the gods have told him not to retreive. That it’s not for the lion to get, but the lion makes his way up the mountain and tries to get that flower,” said Lau.
The Wah Ngai Lion Dance Association will perform at Ala Moana Center Stage on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.