Year of the Dragon looks bright for Scarborough lion

The Year of the Dragon is said to bring success and good fortune.

For Kavin Ketheeswaran, 2012 is shaping up that way.

The young lion dancer is looking forward to taking his performance to the next level this year and representing Canada on the international stage in his discipline’s home country.

“I haven’t been to China yet but my master, or sifu, offered to take me there for a New Year’s competition either this year or next year,” Ketheeswaran said Sunday. “I am very excited about that.”

The 19-year-old from Scarborough performed alongside other students from the Wushu International College, his martial arts school, for Chinese New Year celebrations at Scarborough Town Centre over the weekend. The event drew a big crowd of curious onlookers.

“We have seen lion dancing in movies before but we were curious to see it in person,” said Mike Ramprasad, who brought his whole family to watch the final performance on Sunday afternoon. “We missed last year’s show but wanted to make it this time.”

With more than a half dozen performances in two days, Keetheswaran was able to conquer the stage fright that was bothering him during his first show at last year’s event at the mall.

“I was very nervous last year,” he said. “It was my first time performing here. I made tons of mistakes.

“But I have learned from my mistakes. Practice makes perfect.”

Ash McKenzie, owner of Wushu International College and Ketheeswaran’s sifu, said he believes in his student’s talent and plans to have him test international waters at an upcoming tournament in Las Vegas in early October.

“We still need to figure out the exact details,” McKenzie said. “But if everything goes well, then he will participate in Vegas.”

Ketheeswaran started lion dancing when he was 16 and was immediately assigned the role of the tail of the red lion, which symbolizes courage and is the main star of the show.

As a tail, Ketheeswaran is responsible for lifting or throwing the head of the lion — which this year was played by 13-year-old David Man — for complex moves during the performance.