Travel buddies #meowgershu

We started planning for our trip to Australia quite early (or I’d like to think so), somewhere in March when we were slated to travel in October.

Yep we met up… for a grand total of one time and we were ready to travel with each other for 11D10N.

In our defense, we were old travel buddies.

Penang 2012

 

Hong Kong 2012

 

I think it makes a certain breed of friends to travel together and thankfully the three of us would have worked well.

  • Both of them can drive and value add in this point. I am the loser driver who has a license but cannot drive.
  • Roger takes beautiful pictures and can read Google Maps
  • Shu just makes us laugh a lot with her ditzy-ness and takes care of $$$.
  • I am the planner of the group – I’m all about reading Lonely Planet, doing hell lots of research and memorising almost everything I can about each destination.

Do you have a couple of friends that you travel with too?

 

Dance Singapore Dance: Finalists revealed

Remember I blogged about Dance Singapore Dance (DSD) a while ago and they were holding auditions?

As expected, a lot of my friends who were full-timing as dance instructors/ performers did not participate due to financial and scheduling issues since one is not paid for the stint in DSD. I hope that if Zee TV does a second edition, some sort of allowance / remuneration can be provided so as to reach out to a larger pool of talents that they had missed out this round.

However, that did not stop over 200 dancers from auditioning for a spot in DSD! The finalists were whittled down to 12 top dancers and I did spot a couple of familiar faces.

Previous editions of Dance India Dance (the parent format) required contestants to be competent in multiple genres.

The 12 finalists, age 16 to 35, come from varied dance backgrounds. It’ll be interesting to see how each of them adapt to different styles as the competition is formatted kind of like So You Think You Can Dance.

The dancers will be whittled down through a number of individual and team-based challenges and weekly elimination rounds until a winning Dancing Star is crowned.

They were placed into two groups, mentored separately by choreographers Anil Dandge, renowned Bollywood choreographer and Roche Mascarenhas, dance instructor & choreographer.

Group dance

Group dance

Logan was a dark horse, making it to top 12 after another contestant dropped out and moved local judge Zaini Tahir to hears in his solo performance at semi-finals.

Judges(L-R): Shakti Mohan and Zaini Mohammad Tahir

Dance Singapore Dance will premiere on Saturday, 18th July at 8 pm on Zee TV APAC (StarHub TV Channel 125 and SingTel TV Ch 646) across 18 countries. The grand finale is on Saturday, 26th September on Zee TV.

To keep updated on the finalists and who eventually will win, keep a look out on Dance Singapore Dance Facebook Page.

Images courtesy of Zee TV

What gets on my nerves in dance classes

Since graduation from NUS, I try to keep a regular dance schedule so that I don’t turn too rusty. It’s also my form of work out and exercise.

I’ve taken classes at a lot of dance studios and meet many new dancers who just started taking classes. Some, I feel, lack dance studio etiquette and manners. I don’t think any of them harbours any ill intentions. The lack of basic, what I call, studio courtesy, stems from ignorance.

These are some of things that gets to me when I go for classes.

Okay interruption: rare video of me dancing in class. If you can spot me that is.

Lack of spatial awareness

In a class full of moving people, it can get dangerous when a dancer is not aware of the amount of space around him/her that him/her can move in. In very basic laymen terms, it means to know how much space you have before you hit your neighbours.

While we’ll all like to stretch to our fullest, the least is to be considerate of your neighbours and manage your strength just in case you hit someone.

One of my most terrifying case seen: Someone kicked another someone in the eye and the person (who got kicked) was wearing contact lens and had to seek medical help. No joke.

Arriving late to class and taking a spot that blocks someone’s spot in the mirror

Haven’t we seen this all? Someone who comes late to class and instead of slotting at the back, the person shifts to in front of you, doesn’t bother to take window but stands directly in front of you.

Your mirror spot? Nah. My parents used to say this when I blocked their line of vision.

“Did you eat glass? Are you transparent?”

The shifty person: One who changes her spot or can’t decide on her window

Type 1: The person who’s late to class, slots in at the back during warm up and stealthily migrates to the front

Type 2: Cannot decide on a window in class.

While I will just “Tsk tsk” the first type, the second type makes it a more disruptive class.

Wearing multiple accessories or watch to class

My old instructor used to say this if he spots you wearing a watch:

You watching how fast my class goes?

To be honest, this is a safety issue too. Imagine your clunky rings and bangles hitting someone. Or rather what if you get hit by someone with clunky rings and bangles?

Taking the front row in open class

Typically, the front row is taken by the regular class takers who know the usual class warm ups. They’ve also been coming to class for some time.

Why are these dancers granted the “front row” rights? Because usually, the rest of the class will take the cues and lead from these dancers.

How about those who rush to the front row and miraculously disappear when it comes to small groups?

All in all…

To be honest, I don’t think anybody new to dance classes will know these etiquette rules of a dance class. It comes with observance and attending multiple classes.

How do you tell someone basic class etiquette? It’s not like an instructor will tell you. Personally, I feel that it can be awkward and somewhat confrontational.

My question to you is: Do you actually ask someone to move if they take your mirror spot when they’re late or do you move yourself?

Also, (in case my post goes viral), these are MERELY my observations and opinions. You may have your observations and opinions too, feel free to leave a comment below.

Singapore’s upcoming reality dance show

The last reality dance show in Singapore that I remember was The Dance Floor on Channel 5. That was probably when I was still in primary school! Anyone knows of Zee TV? It’s a cable channel from India and they’re bringing Dance Singapore Dance – localised version of Dance India Dance to town. It’s somewhat similar to SYTYCD and is open to all local residents, 16 and above. Super long post but these will be the details you’ll need to know!

About Dance Singapore Dance

Dance India Dance started in India in 2009 and has seen over 200,000 participants over nine editions. This is the first edition of Dance Singapore Dance in 2015 Dance Singapore Dance will have the spirit of and showcase a similar look and feel to Dance India Dance. However the format will vary slightly. Continue reading “Singapore’s upcoming reality dance show”

My first step at seven

I was one of those early starters. I remember peeking through the louvres of my primary school hall’s sliding doors, admiring at the dancers’… long hair. I was fascinated at possibility of having swishy long hair I can whip around.

I whip my hair back and forth

Yes, I started dance so I could have long hair. And so it began, the start of my Chinese Dance Thursdays because trainings had always been on Thursdays.

I remember the first day at dance was a very painful experience. My mother bought me the standard uniform (of a pink leotard and short blue tights) and reminded me to listen to the teacher. I thought it would be fun. Maybe, we would get to prance around pretending to be fairies and killing monsters. Or we’d go on tippy toes and catch butterflies.

Instead, my first lesson was spent on learning the basics such as: the famed 莲花手(loosely translated to lotus hand which is the basic hand hold of Chinese dance) and how to flex/point your feet. Then, the horror came – stretching. .. Just imagine the NAPFA sit and reach test in your mind. That was what it was like. The instructor was sitting on the top of my back and there was no way to wriggle out.

Breathe in, breathe out. Push the pain to the back of your mind.

That was one of the most painful stretches for me because I wasn’t flexible that way. But the stretching also primed me to be able to take a lot of pain. Those were the times when lessons weren’t made to be fun. Unlike now, when you check out kids’ dance curriculum, they’re all about having fun and inculcating the love for dance.

I stuck by Chinese dance for years somehow. Many of my classmates laughed at the gaudy make up /costumes and I had to make time for extra dance examination drilling and SYF (Singapore Youth Festival) training. I had extra dance training on Sunday mornings at 9am which were 1.5 hours away from my home. Chinese dance in primary school was also tolerable because of my two other good friends. The love-hate relationship with dance veered towards hate more than love. On many occasions, I wanted to quit but my mother was adamant that I persevere for as long as I can.

Secondary school came,  Chinese dance then became a burden to my (somewhat) hectic social life and seemed uncool to teenagers who just wanted to hang out at Parkway Parade, wandering through the shops. Couple that with endless band practices (my CCA at that time), and trying to pass Maths, it felt almost unbearable. I finally made the decision to call it quits when I was 13 or 14 and only picked dance back up seriously (not Chinese dance) when I was in my late teens/early twenties.

Upon reflection, I think I enjoyed doing the numerous shows (performing is the fun part right?) but the examinations were painful.

I am thankful for the flexibility Chinese dance imbued in me which turned out to be a blessing during Jazz and contemporary classes (kinda). Memorising numerous short routines for each dance examination expanded my brain’s memory bank for choreography. Chinese dance also taught similar techniques to Jazz such as 大跳 (big jump) which would be the equivalent of a  jete and 平转 (turn) which formed the basis of chaines. I was blessed to have so many different learning opportunities.

Going for the many lessons also taught me discipline and independence. I had to learn to manage my own time and schedule since I was the one who wanted to learn dance, I had to be responsible for myself. This means prepping dance gear and arranging for transport (my grandma used to drive me home or I’ll take the public bus myself) cos my mama ain’t got time for that yo.

And yes, I started taking the public bus home myself at age 8.

Did I regret stopping Chinese dance? Yes and no. Yes, because I could have stuck by it and gone so much further. No, because I wouldn’t have left my comfort zone and started really enjoying and loving dance like how I do now.

Eh maybe I wouldn’t be in NUS Dance Blast! but join Chinese Dance instead?

Blast concert in 2012, Second girl from the right

If I could have made a choice, somehow, I don’t think I would have chosen to lose my virginity (in dance, you dirty minded people) in any other way.

Thank you to the Tay family for teaching my first steps in Chinese Dance!

Japan Dance Delight Vol 21 (2014)

So thanks to the good people at F&N and Omy.sg, I was one of the six bloggers writing for Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5 blog challenge. It was quite an experience for me as it was my first blogging assignment. Also, Singapore Dance Delight is one of those events I’ve been following since it started back in 2010. I was frankly, quite surprised to receive a call that I’ve won the blogging challenge and will be flying with Flair Origins to Osaka for Japan Dance Delight Vol 21.

At that point of time, I was also kind of worried because I had just booked my block leave of two weeks to do my version of Eat Pray (But No) Love in Bali. Which meant that in the month of July/August, I would be in Bali for two weeks, back in office for two weeks then away to Japan for a week. Thankful for supportive team mates and bosses, I managed to get all my leave approved.

*Dances a celebration jig*

If you’re still in the unknown about Japan Dance Delight – in short, it is a Japan franchised dance competition that brings the world’s best to one of the globe’s dance central, Osaka, to compete. In Singapore, we’re at its fifth edition of Singapore Dance Delight (SDD)

So the champs of SDD scored themselves a seeded place + sponsored trip to Japan Dance Delight 21.

Photo credit: Override Photography

So our trip began on 31 July 2014. We flew by SQ if you’re wondering!

Touch down at Osaka International Airport.

Japan Dance Delight was held at this awesome place – almost stadium like where the audience sits in curved seating.

Continue reading “Japan Dance Delight Vol 21 (2014)”

Post Shut Up And Dance (SUAD) Reflections 2014

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. 

Singapore Dance Delight: Vol 5 – Wise words from previous champs

When… I was really young, I was taught by the previous champ of Singapore Dance Delight Vol. 4 for a while. I remember Mag as a passionate and patient teacher who drilled us in the basics of jazz. Fast forward… many years, Amin was teaching for a while and his classes were tough but I had so much to take away each time.

Mag + Amin = Megamint

They competed in SDD Vol 4 and repped Singapore in Japan Dance Delight. I bumped into them before the competition started and here are their top 5 tips for Flair Origins.

1. Rep your style hard

The judging criteria at each competition are different so check out the criteria before setting your piece. Go in-depth into your style instead of showcasing many styles. Amin had an interesting breakdown: 100% your style + 20% exploration because you need more than 100% for JDD.

2. Finding your crew’s identity

With so many crews at JDD, it is important to identify your crew’s Unique Selling Point and create your own identity. Mag shared something very important:

“Everyone’s dancing is so good, what makes you stand out from the rest?”

One of Megamint’s critique for JDD from the judges was that their item did not have a cohesive storyline. Having a flow helps your item stand out from the rest and keep the judges in the zone!

3. Plan your stage marking time well

Megamint’s item for JDD was five minutes long but they were only given two minutes to run the stage. Plan smart, if you have a stunt, run it full out. Chances are there wouldn’t be any time at all to run the item. Memorise the stage space.. within two minutes.

4. Disconnect with the audience

Well not really but competing away from home ground means.. you barely know anyone in the audience which may mean.. a deathly silence during your item. If feeding off energy from the audience is your thing, then it’s time to find another source to psych yourself. Mag mentioned that the audience seating is curved it, so the effect is almost 3D.

5. Soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the moment

Pretty duh right. Amin said that there were masseuse and physiotherapists on ground. Cameras are everywhere so look your best!

*Pictures used from Dance Delight Facebook

I was not paid to blog about Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5. This series is an invitation by Omy.sg to blog about this dance competition as a blog challenge. Two bloggers will win a sponsored trip to Japan which includes: flight, 3 nights accommodation and entry to Japan Dance Delight.

Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5: Finals (Part 1)

So… The Singapore Dance Delight Finals just concluded last Saturday at Kallang Theatre. I think this is probably my 5th time attending SDD but it feels so different this round – because I am an official blogger with a media pass!

If you don’t know what SDD is all about – shame on you! No, just kidding, cycle back to my infographic that I had specially created for SDD to get the lowdown.

I always like the different photo opportunities and photo booths F&N creates.

I always maintain that only dancers will patiently queue so long

3D photo booth

This is my personal favourite – a fluorescent photobooth

With other official bloggers

Before we get started into the crews specific since it is SDD Vol 5, my top five thought tracks around SDD as a whole:

  • It looks like the judges are bringing back “DANCE” in Singapore Dance Delight. The judge’s comments and critique for both finals and prelims seem to centre around the importance of good dancing. The flashy and entertaining bits – nah, they could do without them.
  • The most overused song is Snoop Dog’s Smoke The Weed Everyday. It was used in three different crews including the champs.

  • Sheikh Haikel is hands down one of the best emcees you can get for dance events – he even threw in a little dancing this year! Fun fact: Do you know that he usually wears shades while hosting? The stage lights are superbly blinding that’s why!
  • It’s interesting to see how crews radically change their item from prelims to finals. For example, Roosevelt and A.O.C (both of my interviewees!) took the judges’ critique and changed their items for the better. This change is also… reflected in their rankings I believe.
  • It is indeed… different attending SDD as a blogger and a regular ole’ dancer.

Check out the crews in action!

The Freak Chicks

Whatever Werkz

LegitX

Pinoy Hip Hop

Colour of Life

MarWins

Project 1.0

Roosevelt

Sevengers

FMD Extreme

F.I.X

Limited Edition

Female Gangsta

All Out Crew (AOC)

4:13

Elders

Bustasoulz

The Dude

Flair Origins

Amberria

Feel Good

Freekzy Bots

The Gentlemen Collective

*Crew pictures are used with permission from Thomas Tan Photography. Kindly do not use his images without his explicit permission.

I was not paid to blog about Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5. This series is an invitation by Omy.sg to blog about this dance competition as a blog challenge. Two bloggers will win a sponsored trip to Japan which includes: flight, 3 nights accommodation and entry to Japan Dance Delight.

Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5: Finals (Part 2)

Part 2 of SDD Finals

Judge’s line-up

Here’s a quick introduction to the judges and their comments on SDD Finals.

Pic cred: dancedelight.sg

Ryan Tan

 

One of the most respected pioneers of the local dance scene! Creative Director of Oschool and the man behind so many varsity and Oschool productions.

  • Don’t put on a concept around your item and forget about dancing altogether
  • While concepts/ideas are entertaining, the judges want to see the crew’s dancing

Shaun Evaristo

One of the most well-known choreographers in the entertainment scene. Some of his choreography includes: Taeyang’s Wedding Dress and Justin Bieber’s Believe World Tour. He’s also the founder of Movement Lifestyle – a choreographer management company/studio.

Henry Link

One of the pioneers/granddaddy in the Hip Hop scene. He was the founder of Elite Force Crew (of New York)  – which was one of the first crews to start dancing on tv/shows, hence, spreading the movement and culture globally.

  • Good concepts and dance crews
  • Great to see how the dance community has grown over the years
  • Don’t dance to be famous, dance because you love the craft

Acky

Lauded as one of the world’s best popper. His crews have won three instalments of Japan Dance Delight in 1998 (Vol.5), 2002 (Vol.9) and 2013 (Vol.20).

  • The SG dance scene has levelled up since his last visit in SDD Vol 1.
  • Important to have good dance skills and techniques because it is a dance contest

Dominique

Member of Wrecking Crew Orchestra – if I can say – one of the dopest Japanese crews around. They’re the crew which came up with the LED dance performance: YouTube

  • Good effort all around
  • His most importance judging criteria is: the dancing has to be good.

 

I think the general consensus this year is: “Save the flashy bits and get down to dancing”.

And so, the winners are…

Congratulations to Flair Origins! They’ve been around the scene for the longest time (7 years maybe?) and I really admire their crew for sticking around so long. Individually, they are all fantastic and strong dancers (especially in freestyle) and are frequent faces in the battles. They’re true advocates of the local dance scene too, in fact, I heard they’re going on on tour to 8 countries to give workshops.

I’m sure they will do Lion City proud.

They win:

  1. 4D3N sponsored trip to Japan Dance Delight Vol. 21, Osaka Japan by F&N Sparkling Drinks
  2. X-Mini UNO Speaker
  3. Cathay Cineleisure Movie Tickets
  4. Lenovo Yoga Tablet
  5. O School $1000 CASH

In second place: 4:13 (Four Thirteen) from Indonesia. The crew will be seeded in JDD. The prizes include:

  1. X-Mini UNO Speaker
  2. Cathay Cineleisure Movie Tickets
  3.  O School $800 CASH

 

Freekzy Bots rounded up third place with:

  1. X-Mini UNO Speaker
  2. Cathay Cineleisure Movie Tickets
  3. O School $500 CASH

 


 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners at Singapore Dance Delight. Big thanks to F&N for presenting and Oschool for organising SDD each year. With every SDD, the standard of the local dance scene keeps getting pushed up!

For everything F&N visit: http://www.facebook.com/FnNFuN. They do lots to support the local dance scene so like their Facebook for updates!
*Stage pictures are used with permission from Thomas Tan Photography. Kindly do not use his images without his explicit permission.*