• Tue
  • Sep 30, 2014
  • Updated: 3:00pm

PARALLEL LIVES

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 1997, 12:00am

Name: Ha Kwok-cheung.


Age: 68.


Occupation: Lion dance 'king' of Hong Kong, master of Kung Fu and bone-setter/acupuncturist at his own headquarters in Sheung Wan.


Career Path: Kung Fu, bone-setting, acupuncture and martial art dances (lion and dragon dances) are all linked. You cannot be seriously involved in one without knowing the other. My family has been involved in martial arts for more than four generations; when I was four my father started teaching me all there was to know about lion and dragon dances, how to do some of the steps, about the equipment and so on. My family moved from Quanzhou to Hong Kong when I was a teenager and I joined my father in the business.


Ha's day: I'm always at work early, despite my age, because there are many things to get on with. As well as running the shop I help un seven martial arts clubs across Hong Kong and I have to supervise and co-ordinate all the instructors.


The lion dance teams all have to be trained in Kung Fu to be able to perform the dance properly. There is a lot of organising to be done every day as each month, on average, we have 30 bookings for dances. During busy periods like Lunar New Year we can have up to 15 functions a day. Each lion dance involves 10-12 people when you count those inside the lion and others who play various instruments. A big ceremony with two dragons could involve 150 people, so we have to be very organised not just in terms of manpower, but also with all the equipment needed.


I also have to find out what each company wants and then choose the appropriate costume and colours. My lions are painted in fluorescent colours and the faces lined with imported Australian sheepskin.


Red, gold and silver lions are popular for opening ceremonies because they bring prosperity. To hire a small lion costs $5,000 while a dragon costs $18,000. It is not a lot to charge considering each lion costs $8,000 to make and a dragon $60,000.


I have been inside the lion/dragon many times over the years, but I tend not to do it these days because I get on with all the bookings and liaise with companies. I even have to get involved with the actual making of the costumes at my factory. In between I do acupuncture, massage and bone-setting on clients. I must love this job, after all I've been doing it for more than 50 years and it certainly keeps me fit.


Salary: Commensurate with any top Hong Kong business executive. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN ... Li Ka-shing.


Ambition: To always dream up new steps for the lion and dragon so that dances never become repetitive.


Name: Scott Ligertwood.


Age: Late 32 Occupation: Full-time children's entertainer/clown who lives in Braemar Hill.


Career path: After gaining a Technology and Business Studies Degree at the University of Glasgow, I worked in London for six years as a systems engineer for a fire and security company. It meant a lot of international travelling and after a few years later I went back to university to do a Post Graduate Certificate of Education so I could teach engineering in schools. About eight years ago, my girlfriend, now my wife, moved to Hong Kong and I followed her. My first job was busking with a guitar in Central, then by chance a friend asked me to help entertain some kids at a party and I became hooked. Over a six-year period I developed my own style of comedy, juggling, games and clown acts and it's now a full-time business which can support my wife and four children.


Scott's day: Saturdays are normally the busiest day for clowning and I have an average of three shows each Saturday, though I've done as many as six. I get up at 5.45am and take my dog out on to Braemar Hill. I come back and play with kids and then catch up on admin work.


Each show is different because so much depends on children's mood, the venue and so on, but I usually start off with some silliness and slapstick to get them going. I need to make them realise I am a fun person who wants to have fun. I go with the flow of the party rather than stick to any schedule so I might introduce some magic next, then get the children to sing songs and play games. They all seem to love Mr Fluff, the magic tickling feather.


It is the most challenging job I have ever had because children are so honest that if you lose their attention they will just wander off or tell you that you are boring. It is also the most wonderful feeling to get a whole bunch of kids laughing and it takes real concentration to keep this kind of energy flowing. I usually end the party with balloon sculpting. If I have time between parties I travel in costume otherwise I change in between shows and try to have 15 minutes meditation in my car before the next one which really re-charges my batteries. I'm very aware that I'm only as good as my last party.


Salary: At least $30,000 a month. I charge $1,700 an hour; it's great money for having fun.


Ambition: Make some children's CDs and have a successful TV show like the Wiggles.


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