Dancebox When: April 16, 8.30pm Where: Pentas 2, KLpac Tickets: Minimum donation of RM15. Walk in!
It’s a one-night only showcase of dances in progress, where the audience’s thoughts are sought after in making the newbie choreographers’ visions come alive. Check out MyDance Alliance/The Actors Studio series called Dancebox, with eight short showcases up on stage.
“It’s an event for local dancers and choreographers to express their feelings, hone their craft and to test the relevance of their works,” says Leng Poh Gee, MyDance Alliance vice-president and dance lecturer at Tanjung Malim’s Sultan Idris Education University (UPSI).
The showcase has been revived after a four-year hiatus. MyDance Alliance, founded in 2001, is a network organisation with local and international links, and is a member of the World Dance Alliance. Those who perform in Dancebox must be members.
A Kelantan native, Leng, after 12 years with the Dance Department at University Malaya (UM), is juggling teaching in Perak with rehearsals for Dancebox and other dance activities, plus a school-going child at home and a baby on the way.
But with MyDance Alliance president Bilqis Hijjas is in New York furthering her studies, Leng says: “The show must go on.”
Leng says that all kinds of dances are accepted for Dancebox- – East and West, classical, contemporary and experimental — because “we want to celebrate dance”.
With an eye on diversity in dance making that is related to dance institutions – be they private (Danceart Studio), tertiary dance education institutions (UM, UPSI and Aswara) and emerging young choreographers who are alumni/current students of these institutions, Leng hopes the event will represent different facets of the Malaysian dance community and introduce public tertiary dance studies institutions to the public.
The dances include a work that mixes classical and modern ballet, a Dusun traditional dance of Sabah, a contemporary dance that attempts to raise awareness on the decline of tattoo tradition of the Ibans in Sarawak, and a new contemporary creation that is deconstructed from Malay classical dance, Terinai.
Leng says the emerging artistes — Rithaudin Abd Kadir, Fauzi Amirudin, Adeline Chew Kai Min and Dalila Binti Abdul Samad — are now trying to get more exposure though their creations.
All the performers are going out on a limb with their creations on stage to gain audience feedback for improvement.
One such solo performer is 26-year-old Adeline Chew, who will be presenting a mix of contemporary and Latin ballroom dances.
Says the UM performing arts graduate and current teacher with a dance academy: “I’ve come to learn the different intricate values in each dance form and this is the first time I am mixing various dances of different characters, forms and techniques. It’ll be an interesting experience for everyone and myself. ”
Trained from young in ballroom dancing, the Johor Baru native has emerged champion in international championships. At UM, she says she studied various dance genres took part in World Dance Conference with the Petronas Dance Group.
She says she was first exposed to dance when at pre-school. Bitten by the dance bug from then on, her mother did not allow her to attend dance classes.
“Instead, she sent me and my sister to learn to play the organ from our aunt, all because it was ‘trendy’ at that time. Well, because every Chinese parent thinks it’s better to send their kids for piano or organ classes. This went on for only a year, as my aunt then migrated to Singapore, and our mum didn’t trust any other teacher with her kids’ musical future.”
Chew learnt dance steps through television shows, with her elder sister. “We even danced right in the centre of our living room and ‘performed’ for our parents, hoping that one day mum will see my passion and send me for proper dance classes. It worked eventually!”
Chew had to wait till she was 16 before that happened. “I stumbled across a TV programme that was showing a Latin & Ballroom dance competition; I immediately fell in love with the beautiful costumes the dancers were wearing. I went around JB looking for a dance school with my high school senior, Judy Goh; coincidentally we were introduced to Ms Cindy Tan, who was teaching at a school near my house.”
Chew is a competitive dancer, as well as teacher. She found a long-term dance partner just last year, and has won a few local Latin & Ballroom championships thus far as a couple.
For Dancebox, Chew hopes to inspire her fellow performing arts peers that “dance does not come in a single form”.
“Dance is an art; an art that deserves to be recognised and appreciated from all sides.”
** Most of this story appeared in the New Sunday Times, april 16, 2017.