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Johny Chee and the Nyonya Belles

Johny Chee is a Penang Baba who loves his culture very much. He does a lot of effort to revive the interest of the general public about the dying culture of the Baba and Nyonya. Besides writing a book -"A tapestry of Baba & Nyonya poetry", he is also the mover behind a group of Nyonya dancers who call themselves the Nyonya Belles.

Johny Cheeand the Nyonya Belles
Johny Chee
and the Nyonya Belles.

These Nyonyas dance traditional ance which has a lot of influence from the Malay culture. They danced to the music chosen by Johny. He has a long list of tunes that bring back the nostalgic moments when life was more laid back.

The Nyonya Belles are always invited to special events and ceremonies to perform. Last year, I got to see them at Little Penang during the celebration of the inscription of Penang as a heritage city.

They have a large repertoire of choreographed moves. They use many props that remind you to the life of the Nyonyas back then.

They dance with handkerchiefs, tiffin carriers, Chinese fans, embroidery frames even mandarin oranges.

The names of the dance are mostly Malay: For example "tarian kipas" and "sapu tangan" refer to the items that they use while dancing (the Chinese fans and handkerchiefs).

Sometimes Johny will sing too. The songs also include the old Malay favorites like keronchong and dondang sayang. For the younger generations, these are old boring songs. However, these were the songs enjoyed by the Peranakan Cina in Penang many years ago. You may listen to the songs on the CD included in the Baba and Nyonya poetry book by buying the book.

If you have a special event and would like to invite the Nyonya Belles to perform at your function, please call Johny Chee himself at +6016-423-1109 or Madam Belinda Neoh at +6016-4775782.

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The Little Penang market is held every last Sunday of the month. There are performances, activities and local market stalls with typical Penang food and other things.

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Baba and Nyonya Culture in Penang

Unique for Malaysia and the rest of the world is the Baba and Nyonya culture.

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