I’ve been dancing with NUS Dance Blast! (the National University of Singapore’s varsity hip hop crew) for a while. I’m into my third year of working life, sometimes it gets tough managing my schedule and also, I juggle other commitments too. This year, I’m so glad I made the decision to head back for our bi-annual production, Shut Up And Dance (SUAD).
The production happens only once every two years, so it really depends on how lucky you are on the year you enter Blast. For me, SUAD occurred when I was in year one and that year, there were no plans to include the new dancers. My first SUAD (the navy shirt) was when I was in year 3 – and that was probably my most impactful SUAD. That SUAD was super intense for me – I did three items, Nash + Ahmad, FredChun and finale. I remember then, everyone turned up for rehearsals faithfully (somehow everyone had no other rehearsals/ important family appointments/ holidays), organised our own clean up sessions and even… had to audition for blocking in the formations. SAY WHAT?
The following SUAD was the most tiring for me I feel (almost to the point, I don’t remember much about it) because I thought, three items no kick since I could do it in undergrad days so I went ahead and signed myself up for three – the alumni item, a Sasha Fierce item and Magnus’s contemporary piece. However, I forgot to factor in working life. I remember spending 8 hours to sew that damn sequinned cloth onto my dress (which still hangs in my cupboard because I feel too emotionally attached to my sewing).
That year, I joined the alumni item very late and learnt so much choreography in a single session I was brain fried. I believe th item had 6- 8 sessions where we learnt steps and blocked in six sessions and had two clean up rehearsals. Very effective and efficient but also in a stressful environment where you’re dancing with some of the most veteran dancers in the scene.
My third SUAD (which just happened yesterday) was probably the most memorable and joyful SUAD for me. I only did two items (or rather one and maybe one-fifth of the finale item) this time because I felt that my creaky bones couldn’t do it any more. It turned out to be the right decision – because I was away for 3.5 weeks in July – August. I would have missed plenty of rehearsals and died 10 times over trying to catch up with steps and blocking. The alumni item was quite small, we had 24 dancers as compared to other items that had 40 dancers. However, it was also this smaller item that made me feel at home and at ease. I was initially hesitant to join the alumni item because I was afraid I’ll be awkward and lonely – being in an item where dancers previously danced together (in S24 and a smaller concert earlier in Feb) and not having my batch mates with me. (They are all old/ not happening / not dancing anymore.)
I know I work in communications but I’m actually sometimes quite an awkward person.
Okay back to the topic – the choreography wasn’t the easiest and definitely too fast to be comfortable but we pulled through. I enjoyed hanging out with everyone during dinners even though we’re multiple batches across. In a normal item, I think it’d be tough because the senior/junior segregation tends to be a bit more obvious. I made some new friends, found back old friendships and learnt a lot from my seniors in the dance scene during random conversations at rehearsals and dinners.
My most poignant memory has to be hanging in the nice-smelling girls’ dressing room with everyone else, trying our best to hustle everyone to finish writing notes for the choreographers’ presents and jamming on the ukulele.
You know how some memories are so precious to you that you just Zip it so you can extract them later? I have a folder in my brain like that.
Dancing on stage with the alumni this right felt right and hit the perfect spot. It was a sweet closure to the end of my SUAD 2014 journey. Thank you to NUS Dance Blast and the organising committee for putting together SUAD.
P.S. Header photo taken by the talented Roger.