Chinese culture is about to celebrate its New Year’s Eve, so scheduled events and shows started in China but also in other Asian countries, such as Malaysia. The Aquaria KLCC, in Kuala Lumpur, has put divers in its oceanarium to perform the traditional Chinese lion dance underwater, as part of celebrations for the upcoming Lunar New Year.
The underwater lion dance was performed by experienced divers who have been working alongside the aquarium for many years. Their expertise allows them to execute the show with the moves and know-how needed to make the one-of-a-kind feat go smoothly and safely.
Aquarium manager Daryl Foong said performing a lion dance underwater wasn’t an easy task. “There is an element of safety that we need to maintain in the aquarium, because we have sharks in the tank and they are wild animals. Even though they are quite used to human presence, we still have to respect them”, said Foong.
While most of the fish were generally nonchalant about the lion’s presence in their home, the green sea turtles are known to get quite cheeky once they catch sight of the new arrival. “They’ll start nudging the lion, maybe hoping there’s a bit of food in it for them”.
The lion scuba dance: a tradition
Aquaria KLCC first debuted their underwater lion dance during Chinese New Year in 2009, and continued to hold it on and off in the years that followed. Positive feedback from the public has resulted in the special event being held continuously for three years.
Lion dances are traditionally performed in China and among ethnic Chinese communities all over the world to mark the Lunar New Year. In the traditional art form, two or more performers put on a colourful head and cloak, and try to mimic a lion’s movements, accompanied by music – although not usually underwater.