Dance Is More Than What You Think It Is

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In the past, our first dance performances used to be our kindergarten graduation ceremonies. However, children now are taking part in external competitions as well.

In fact, seniors are picking up dance as well.

It is seen not only as art but also as a form of keeping fit. However, to dancers, it is not that simple; it is more than you think.

Dance is a constant perfection of self-expression, it’s about community, roots, and culture.
Many of us view dance at either one end of the spectrum. It is either invigorating and can’t-stop-moving or intimidating and not-for-me.

Similar to every art that society practices, it is returned with a truck-load of opinion and judgment – both the good and bad.

In this article, I will be sharing my experience and life lessons that I’ve learned as an “ex-dancer”.

In addition, I’ve interviewed one of Singapore’s renowned dancers, who has given me some OG perspective on some questions that you and the dance community would most probably be keen to hear.

Where you can go to get a taste of dance

Breakdancer male on elbow in dance battle
Photo Credit: Richard Prayoga (@richardprayoga)

The best place to start learning dance, in my opinion, is not Youtube (although that is possible). But the difference is the community and the people around you, and that makes a whole lot of difference.

One of the best places to start experiencing dance culture and community is dance classes by instructors who teach more than just moves and choreography. These instructors pass down knowledge about the culture and history of the dance.

Where I started to dance

I started in school dance clubs and had been dancing for about 5 years in total. Then I stopped.

Dance to me was something that I badly desired to get good at. So, I practised hard for it – but sometimes working hard seemed to never be enough and I felt like I was always not fully free when I danced in front of people.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

You feel like you have the greatest moves and hit the most amazing beats when you’re listening to music in the MRT but freeze when you are in dance class.

As with many things, there are both sides to the coin – things that I loved and struggled with in dance.

What I Loved

1) Dance can help you lose weight easily

Dance is extremely demanding in all aspects. Dancers are athletes who express and perform through art.

Look at those bboys – whose upper body strength is developed enough to defy gravity.

I say “easily” because the easiest things in life are when we have fun while doing them! Compared to the monotony of an endless treadmill, dancing for hours to your favourite playlist sounds much better.

2) Dance allows you to experience the power of the human body

Have you ever seen a dancer move with such control and liquidity yet make it look so easy?

Who would have imagined how flexible, agile, strong, rhythmic, malleable, and creative we could be! If you’re a dancer, the simpler the moves look, the harder it actually is to synchronise and perfect them.

3) Dance builds your confidence and character

The very thing that seems hardest to do, is the very thing that you need to do. In fact, it is the only thing that you should do.

It is absolutely fine to dance like a stick or look awkward – as long as you’re okay with it. Not everyone really bothers about being good at dance.

However, if you want to be more confident about your dance or just be better, the obvious thing to do is to do it – to dance more.

Simply being willing to start is all it takes to get the ball rolling. Dance is a discipline; a craft that is continually refined while it continually refines you.

4) Dance helps you release emotions that you find hard to articulate into words

Dance gives you the freedom of no rights and wrongs to tell your story.

Being able to know your body well enough, then use it to express to a song you whole soul beats in harmony – now that’s true liberation.

My Struggles With Dance

1) Dance requires vulnerability

Vulnerability is not easy because it forces us to be at a state of discomfort and disposing ourselves to attacks.

In dance, it is important to keep your mind strong. That’s how dance builds your confidence and character; it is demanding in all aspects.

This is trained through years of experience on and off the stage – criticism that you face from others who have no clue about dance; constructive criticism from your peers and instructors.

2) Dance requires discipline and commitment

I came across an Instagram Story from an instructor before. It went something along the lines of:

“If you call yourself a cook, you better be able to cook well. That’s your job; to get better at cooking. The same thing applies to dancers. If you call yourself a dancer, you must be able to dance well too, and get better at it.”

Are our claims amounting to our actions? Do our consistent actions add up to our goals?

Dance demands discipline and commitment.

This is a “con” for the general readers because if we see this objectively, would a lot of us set aside extra time after work or school to drill and train? Some say yes, most say no.

An Interview with Luqman from Flair Brothers

Luqman is one of the renowned dancers in Singapore, who has witnessed the growth of our dance scene and is now educating younger dancers while competing actively.

dance posing on an edge for a photo
Photo Credit: Ming (@mohobos)

When probed about his views on our local dance community, Luqman replies, that the “Singapore Dance community is young and still growing.”

In particular, he feels that the hip-hop culture here is growing slowly, due to a number of reasons.

There are many misconceptions that non-dancers, and even dancers can have about the art form. Amongst all of them, Luqman narrows it down to these two:

  1. Basics are not old school moves. Basics are not moves. Basics are the things you train to aid yourself in understanding on how you move and making all your movements clearer.
  2. Dance is limitless; it is not limited. However, it is normal to start with that mentality “It’s hard” because you’ll most probably be confused and not sure what to do in the beginning. However, feeling like this yet starting is great because that’s when you will learn how to bend certain rules and explore out and free the mind.

To Luqman, being a dancer or not – there’s no difference.

“We are all still flesh and blood; not above anyone. We are just basically athletes that appreciate Art. Then again, some just appreciate movement.”