Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ballet schools

Ballet is an excellent dance form and many parents recognises this. This is testified by the many Ballet schools through out Malaysia. Do you know that even in Kota Baru and Kuala Trengganu there are ballet schools and they produce excellent dancers.

The Dance Society (TDS) stage shows and conduct Ballet competitions to select the best ballet dancer in the country. The competition are divided into age groups and in 3 Categories. Category 1 is the highest where the dancers have to dance en point (on their toes pointed) . Malaysia does not have a Ballet Dance company, the lucky winners will very often be offered scholarship to Australia or Korea to continue their dance training. The fortunate ones will join an overseas Ballet company, many will end up teaching in Ballet schools. The majority will perhaps get a nice office job somewhere, put a little weight and ballets will be a nice and pleasant distance memory to chat about over high tea.

Those who has gone into other dance form will never forget their grounding basics in Ballet. So what is my point in all this! What I would like to address to all ballet schools and appeal to all Ballet teachers is that you are training a good crop of dancers grounding them with strong basics. Would you perhaps consider encouraging your dancers to foray into Dancesport?

My speaking to some hard core Ballet teachers was a little disappointing. They do not view Dancesport as a serious dance form. If at all, it is a social avocation and linked to smoky night clubs with loose girls. Those were the days where the legendary Rose Chan rule the roost in a long forgotten art form of losing her clothes piece by piece on stage. The only remnant today of that lost art is pole dancing. Cheong Sum and Kebaya was the fashion of the day.

These ladies ply their dancing skills in the dance hall through out Malaya notably in Penang, Lighthouse Nite Club, BB Park in Kuala Lumpur and also in Singapore. They dance to live bands in those days. Buy a ticket and those dance hall ladies will gyrate their bums to the tune of perhaps " Yeh Lai Siang" by singer long forgotten already. That may be true in the early sixties and that stigma has never left the Malaysian household psyche. [the excerpts was from my talk over "kopi" with Jimmy Liew Wah Yee a septuagenarian who has been in Ballroom dancing for more than half a century - Reminiscing Uncle Jimmy).

Today Cha Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba , Jive, Waltz, Fox Trot, Quickstep has now evolved into a highly discipline sport. In the year 2000, Dancesport was a demonstration sport at Barcelona Olympics. Since then International Dancesport Federation (IDSF) has strongly promoted Dancesport to be an item in the Olympic Games and they are now a member of the International Olympic Council (IOC)

Closer to home it is a sport in the Asian Indoor Games, The Asian Games and the SEA Games. Malaysia has sent their dancesport athletes to the 2005 and 2007 SEA and Asian Indoor Games. I am urging Ballet schools in the country to consider this. You have taken years to mold out good dance material. Do not only incorporate hip hop, belly dancing, yoga or pilates in your studio activities. Why not incorporate dancesport too. Your pupil may one day represent the country in the SEA or the Asian Games someday.

MPDC is always there to assist you in anyway they can. Okay, so you have been teaching ballet all your life, and Dancesport is double Dutch to you. MPDC can assist you to introduce dancesport to your studio. Think about it please, you are doing a service to the nation by incorporating dancesport as an activity in your studio.

The picture is that of Ellya Sum Mun-Yee an accomplished Ballerina who is now making an attempt to discover more about Dancesport.

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