This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
By Tan Yu Bin (16S03O), Chairperson; Tan Klynn (16A01D), Vice-chairperson; Toon Min Li (16S03J), Secretary; Samantha Rabino (16S07A) Treasurer; Cindy Chen (16S07D), Welfare/Wardrobe IC; Nicole Yap (16A01E)
A pale shaft of light falls forlornly across the floorboards. All is quiet in the mini LT. Waiting, the tables sit silently in their rows of ten. It is then that the glass doors burst forth suddenly, a sharp push revealing dancers clad in their attire, their bright peals of laughter livening up the room. A tornado of efficiency soon sweeps across the mirrored space, the dancers quickly settling into the routine of stacking the chairs and tables up and away. After all, they are dancers, and the space that they use should be respected. After doing a quick mop of the studio, the mini LT turns from a dusty day classroom into a respectable dance studio.
The dancers settle down to start on (the dreaded) physical training. Physical training? Of course! Dancing requires strength in addition to flexibility. Weekly training exercises help build up the important muscle groups needed to perform the effortless looking jumps and turns on stage. That grace does not come easily is little known; hours of strength, flexibility and endurance training behind the scenes are often overlooked. As the saying goes, 台下十年工，台上十分钟. Despite this the tight community of friendship that the dancers have formed tide them over their strenuous training, with heartening cries of “10 SECONDS MORE!” and “KEEP YOUR BACKS UP!” that push the dancers to overcome their limits time and time again.
Exercises to roll out their nimble limbs and to stretch out tight muscles are next. These standard exercises help in stretching even the trickiest muscles (that you never knew you had!), ensuring that none of them strain or snap under pressure. Dance requires quick thinking and fast reactions (think performing a piano piece backwards! That’s everything left-side and in reverse, sometimes cheekily thrown immediately after learning an exercise for the right side). Training the art of weight-shifting particularly helps protect the dancers from any sudden falls. (This is much harder than it sounds!) Dancers are intimately familiar with their bodies, knowing at once where and how to locate the area where strength is required to be channelled from. The slightest shift can drastically affect the power and alignment of a move, for example, the impressive kicks you might see on stage.
After finishing this foundational and essential training, the dancers move on to performance training by learning new choreography. There is an immense sense of camaraderie as all the dancers from different backgrounds collaborate together to form one creation, usually in preparation for a school event such as Open House, National Day or Teachers’ Day. Under the guidance of our instructor, Ms Low Mei Yoke, something conjured in the dancers’ mind slowly becomes a concrete creation that everyone is proud of and happy to dance in. However, during a SYF year, the dancers put their complete trust in the direction of Ms Low to choreograph an outstanding piece that is innovative and challenging for the dancers.
Though the choreography has taken full form, the work starts when the choreography ends as the dancers need to begin cleaning up or “diao-ing” movements so that everyone moves in precise synchronisation with the same energy. This tedious but necessary process not only elevates the quality of the dance, but also gives opportunities for peer evaluation through constructive criticism given by fellow dancers. This certainly helps build a close community that builds on each others’ strengths while improving on each others’ weaknesses.
Dance encapsulates and reflects the emotions, confidence and creativity of dancers. It is an art form well-embraced by all and is not limited to the more feminine gender. We encourage males to give themselves the opportunity to explore their limits and hopefully, be infected by the joy that dance brings. Guys would definitely add a new dynamic to the CCA. Venturing through this journey with Raffles Modern Dance will not always be smooth-sailing, but we can assure you that the benefits to yourself and the team would be gratifying. We warmly welcome you to join our family!