Time taken : ~10mins
When you think of dance, what do you think of? Is it the movement? The music or a story? Does a certain image come to mind? What sort of dancer do you picture? Do you think of yourself as a dancer? In this video, four dancers Jaspreet, Michael, Stephanie and Su go up against preconceived notions of a dancer and his or her body, taking you through their experiences and connections with dance—each of them with a different story to tell. And in dancing and enjoying their bodies, they redefine what dance can be.
Jaspreet is a founding member of Diverse Abilities Dance Collective (DADC) when it first started in 2018. She most recently was a co-choreographer with Eva Tey, and a panel speaker for SEEDS 2021, a new initiative created by Maya Dance Theatre with DADC to bring disability arts to foreground. She also danced in Speaking With Hands, DADC’s first production, working with Liz Lea from Canberra, Australia with the support of Asialink. One of her first steps into the professional sphere was through Small Steps, co-choreographed by Shahrin Johry and Hafeez Hassan, which was featured in 2013 for Release 2.0 by Maya Dance Theatre. She then went on to perform the piece for Momentum by Republic Polytechnic in 2013, and for Bold Festival in Canberra, Australia, in 2017. Recently, she danced in Saarang Festival 2020 in Chennai, India, while co-leading DADC for an exchange with Down Syndrome Federation of India (DSFI). In 2020, Jaspreet was involved as the organising committee of Purple Parade, and also represented DADC to perform for President's Challenge 2020.
Other than performing, Jaspreet also has 16 years of work experience in a kindergarten, which she applies in her dance classes for children at The Artground and Pathlight as a dance instructor, together with main trainers from Maya Dance Theatre. Jaspreet was a speaker for the UN Conference on World Down Syndrome Day in 2014 and for Having a Say Conference 2018 in Geelong, Australia. Soon, she will be starting a series of articles for DADC, sharing about her thoughts and experiences as an artist and self-advocate.
Like so many dancers of my generation, I was inspired by the 1948 ballet movie ‘The Red Shoes’. My Russian ballet teacher embodied the magic, passion and theatricality of the dance world and at the age four and a half I performed in a giant tutu on stage at the Theatre Royal in Hobart, Tasmania; Australia’s oldest working theatre. My dance journey continues with many twists and trajectories along the way over several decades.
Stephanie was the Artistic Director of Canberra Dance Theatre (1978-2001) and was awarded the first Choreographic Fellowship at the Australian Choreographic Centre and a Canberra (ACT) Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the arts. She has choreographed for television, opera, musical theatre, and gymnastic floor routines for Australia across three Olympic Games. Her current work focuses on inter-generational dance with recent performances in Singapore and Australia on stage and via digital platforms.
She has lived in Singapore for over twenty years, lectures at LASALLE College of the Arts and Singapore Management University and is a dance critic and writer including Series Editor for Routledge collections Celebrating Dance in Asia and the Pacific, and Perspectives on Dance, Young People and Change, Series Foreword by Sir Ken Robinson. Her most recent publications are the Routledge Companion to Dance in Asia and the Pacific: Platforms for Change (ed. Stephanie Burridge).
Michael Wong, a former Civil Servant, started with jazz ballet during his NUS undergraduate days under the tutelage of Ms Teresa Pee, and later received classical ballet training under Ms Sylvia McCully, and did Chinese Dance under Mr Zhou Lei and Ms Ding Hong. He has performed in numerous productions by the Sylvia McCully School of Dancing, the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT), the Theatre Arts Troupe and the NUS Chinese Dance. He has performed overseas in Switzerland, Korea, Mauritius and China.
His choreographies have been presented in SDT’s Passages Choreographic Workshop, Ballet Under The Stars pre-show segment, NUS Arts Festival and various productions by the Sylvia McCully School of Dancing, the Theatre Arts Troupe and NUS Chinese Dance. He enjoys travelling around the world to watch dance performances.
Su Mon Myat Aung
As a Burmese who grew up in Singapore, Su had not been in touch with Burmese cultural arts until 2016 when she became one of the founding members of Kumudra Myanmar Arts & Cultural Association. Kumudra is a cultural organisation made up of young Myanmar individuals living in Singapore who have a passion to perform, and are keen on promoting Myanmar tradition and culture to both Myanmar and international communities in Singapore.
Since joining Kumudra, Su has performed traditional Burmese dance in many occasions held across Singapore, including ASEAN ARTS OF WONDER, AFCC, and Singapore Street Festival. Su's dance journey did not just stop at dancing as she frequently devoted herself in training and teaching Burmese dance to the keen learners together with other members from Kumudra. Besides being a full-time civil engineering planner/designer, she is also a passionate dancer of other genres such as modern dance, dancehall and afro.
Bernice Lee (Researcher & Writer)
Bernice is an artist, performer, writer, and dance practitioner. She is co-director of Derring-Do Dance with Faye Lim. They are known for their Rolypoly Family and Body Smarts Through Movement Arts programmes.
Bernice sees art-making as a form of social activism and roots her labours in improvisation, playing in connection between thought, feeling, and movement. She can be found playing as @bleelly on Instagram. Bernice began to dance domestically as part of her online movement practice #ghosting. It was her way of remaking her roles as “wife” and “working artist”. Now a new mother, she has recast herself as MAMAMILKMACHINETM.
From 2011–2017, she performed and created with Maya Dance Theatre and Frontier Danceland. Bernice has a joint practice with theatre practitioner Chong Gua Khee, manifest as Tactility Studies. Tactility Studies: Hold to Reset, was part of Singapore International Festival of Arts 2021. An Associate Member of Dance Nucleus (2018-2020), Bernice holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) in Dance from The Ohio State University. She is an MA Fine Arts candidate at Lasalle College of the Arts. For more, visit bernicelee.xyz.