KOTA KINABALU - A video clip of a lion dance featuring uniquely Sabah touches last weekend has notched up almost half a million views on YouTube so far.
The 10-minute performance showing the lion performing the ethnic Murut community's magunatip warrior bamboo dance and the Kadazandusun sumazau dance was put up by members of the Persatuan Muda Mudi Penampang here.
They were filmed at the annual Sabah Lion, Unicorn and Dragon Dance Festival here last weekend.
Starting as a usual performance, their lion dance took an ethnic twist with the magunatip as well as the appearance of a Kadazandusun chieftain, with both later doing the sumazau.
For group leader Argoh Simon, the enthusiastic response from the crowd at the festival and the nearly 500,000 views of their performance on YouTube brought him and his friends who had founded the group a sense of satisfaction.
"We were trying to reflect the diversity of Sabah's cultures and yet retain that authentic feel in our lion dance performance. I am thankful that it has been well received," said Argoh.
Along with his best friends Cyril Karel, Stanley Chee and Alvin Petrus, Argoh set up the lion dance troupe four years ago, coming together after performing in different groups.
"We wanted to do something unique that shows we are Sabahans and that's how we incorporated the magunatip," he said.
Though the group also performs the common lion dance, the popular request for Chinese New Year events, weddings and other celebrations is the magunatip.
This year is the first time the group has incorporated the kulingtangan (mini gongs) as well as the sumazau and a story for their performance.
The story of their performance goes like this: A lion wants to enter a village to play with a monkey on a tree but is not welcomed by the villagers, who put up bamboo poles as barriers. The lion overcomes these obstacles, only to have the village chief try to block him. Still, the lion reaches the monkey that jumps into a cave. Then the lion returns the monkey to the tree.
The village chief drops his walking stick and the lion picks it up and returns it to him. The lion and villagers then make peace and dance the sumazau.
Argoh said they intended to take part in lion dance competitions starting with one at a shopping mall here on Saturday and the state-level meet here in August.
"Ultimately, we hope to take our act to China," he added.