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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Chinese lions dance into Tyneside
Lion dancers
Teams from Europe and Malaysia and Hong Kong are competing
Exotic sights and sounds of the Far East will be coming to Tyneside when Newcastle plays host to the European Lion Dancing tournament.

Residents of the North East are familiar with the bright and colourful "dragons" as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations in the region.

But now Newcastle has been chosen to host the first European Lion Dance Competition.

Very few people have seen the more advanced and spectacular form of lion dancing performed on tall metal poles, which will form part of the contest, say organisers.

The championship takes place at Eldon Square Sports Hall on Tuesday 26 August, from 1400 to 1730 BST, and also includes a kung fu exhibition.

'Truly amazed'

Sifu, or master, Edmond Ng, chairman of the UK Choi Lee Fut Kung Fu Dragon and Lion Association, which is organising the event, said: "We want to introduce more people to the art of lion dance.

"We want to make people aware that there are more to the lion dance than the traditional form that most people know.

"When we initially contacted other teams about organising the competition, we did not know what the responses would be like, but we were truly amazed at how keen everyone was."

Apart from the European teams from UK, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, and Germany, they have attracted "world champion class teams" from Malaysia and Hong Kong.

'Innovative form'

Mr Yong Yii Yaak, coach of the Malaysia team, said "We are very excited about visiting the UK to take part in this grand event, the first of its kind in Europe.

"It is good to see that Sifu Ng and others are working so hard to raise the profile of lion dancing at the European level."

Shirley Campbell, head of development, Arts Council England, North East said: "The Lion Dance competition is a unique opportunity for people in the North East to be able to see for themselves some of the best performers around in this innovative art form.

"It will be an exciting afternoon and not to be missed".

Newcastle's Lord Mayor and a Consul of People's Republic of China from Manchester will be attending this event.





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