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Originally published February 20, 2012 at 11:41 PM | Page modified March 1, 2012 at 11:48 AM

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Northwest Wanderings: A year for dragon dancing — a symbol of power and luck

Dragon dancers expect a busy schedule in this Year of the Dragon, with people hoping they'll bring luck to weddings, parties and store openings.

Seattle Times staff photographer

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Darth, quit dancing with your dragon! It's embarrassing. MORE
And for those of you who don't know what dancing with the dragon really means, back in... MORE
OP - I'm looking for a long-distance dance partner, back off my Kool-Aide®... MORE

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40th in an occasional series

In this year of the dragon, regarded by many as the most powerful of birth signs, dragon dancers are expected to be just that, symbols of power and luck.

Grand Master Mak Fai, a kung-fu teacher and instructor in dragon dancing, says "it's an honored position to be part of the dragon."

But before you can be inside, "you must learn martial-arts skills," he says.

"You must learn teamwork, footwork and gain strength and coordination."

Otherwise, the dancers risk turning the dragon into a camel, which happens when they lose strength and stand up, creating a hump in the serpent's back.

His dragons of metallic fabric, papier-mâché and bamboo all are from China.

The head is critical since it weighs at least 40 pounds, with up to eight people following.

The movements have to be sinuous, circling and bowing while on the move for 20 minutes. Good dancers are able to swap out positions while staying in motion.

Master Mak's golden dragon was there when the Seahawks stadium opened and when Boeing 747s were delivered to China Air and Delta.

This will be a busy year with private party appearances, weddings and store openings.

The year of the dragon, the fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac, is a good year for marriage and for having children, Master Mak says.

The dragon brings luck; is friendly, wise and powerful; and is believed to control the weather.

If so, why does it rain so often in Seattle?

Maybe the dragon needs to do more dances.

Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or aberner@seattletimes.com

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