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The Dance scene in Singapore

  1. Michael Filippone
  2. Monday, November 26th, 2012

The Dance scene in Singapore

Credit: Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

Explore Singapore’s vibrant and multi-cultural dance scene

If you are a dance and arts enthusiast traveling to Singapore for the first time, you might be wondering – what is the state of dance in Singapore? You will be delighted to discover that dance has a celebrated status in Singapore, with many venues, festivals and training programs for a variety of dance forms. Singpore’s dance scene, as the island itself, is very multicultural. Traditional Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian dance are a strong part of Singapore’s dance roots, not to be overshadowed by the more recent founding of excellent ballet, modern dance, jazz, and contemporary dance companies.

Chinese dance was introduced to Singapore in the 1920s by visiting troupes, and lessons were later offered as an extracurricular activity at many Chinese schools. Malay dance in Singapore has its roots from Malaysia and Indonesia, and the most popularly performed styles are the Joget, Asli, Zapin, Masri and Inang. These dances are normally performed in theatres, but can also be seen at some public events. Dancers have also incorporated movements from Malay films and the Malay martial arts Silat and Randai. Indian traditional dance derives from the Hindus’ dedication to the gods, and there are numerous Indian dance schools in Singapore. Bharatanatyam, Khatak, and Kuchipudi are just a few that you can experience, and of course you can take part in the Bollywood dance craze at many Singaporean clubs.

Since 1988, Singapore has had its own national ballet company, the Singapore Dance Theatre, and in the 1990s many renowned contemporary and modern dance companies were founded. The Arts Fission Company is one of the few full-time dance companies in Singapore, founded by world-class choreographer Angela Liong. Also notable is the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, which founded the first full-time modern dance program on the island. Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts and Singapore Dance Theatre also offer diploma programs for dancers and choreographers. Other well known companies include ECNAD, formerly known as Dance Dimension Project, the Tammy L Wong Dance Company, and Odyssey Dance Theatre

Of course the British founded Singapore, and consequently Singapore has been greatly influenced by the West and by globalization. Despite Western influence and globalization, many artists and companies assert their Asian roots by blending traditional Asian forms with classical and modern dance. Ballroom dancing, Texas line dancing, hip hop, Latin American dance forms, and Middle Eastern belly dancing have also become very popular in clubs and dance studios around the island. The annual Singapore Arts Festival showcases artists from Singapore and around the world. It now includes all the arts, but originally began as the Festival of Dance in the 1980s.

Dance scene in Singapore.

Michael Filippone

About the Author: Michael Filippone

Michael Filippone has traveled throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia. Each year he travels several hundred thousand miles. He regularly visits Singapore for business and has a great love of the Orient.

His favorite things are morning runs in big cities and getting lost. He has a great passion for all things that are water-sport related: paddle surfing, surfing, free diving, fishing, rowing… Here you will find his musings on everything from where to go get lost on a jungle adventure to a road-trip in Thailand to a romantic cruise weaving through the Indonesian archipelago. Here too are hand-selected articles penned for him by writers he likes on the best places to go from Singapore. As well as being one of the key drivers behind setting up, he runs and part-owns – a travel site on all things happening in the wider region. Michael is known to be fond of skipping rope and other than the odd beer, his preferred beverage is coconut water. He loves to fish and play volleyball with his children. He trained as an Olympic rower and loves to see his children find their way in sports and life.

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