Dance Showcase: Bring it On

Instead of only participating in the Pas de Quatre dance, I was also drawn to doing a style of dance that I had never done before, which is a more modern hip-hop style of dancing. Even during Culturama, Kahaani, and last years showcase, I had always been in more traditional or lyrical styles of dancing that were easier for me to learn and incorporate with my previous dancing knowledge.

Despite this, I chose to do Bring it On, which is a cheer and hiphop dance, much faster and more technically different than I am used to dancing. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to set myself, but perhaps I didn’t consider the various factors that would go into being a part of this dance. I am curious to see where it will take us, as there are many new challenges along the way, but I already know most of the people in the dance, and it becomes a fun activity for all of us to do together.

Dance Showcase: Pas de Quatre

Although I have gotten the opportunity to do 5 dance performances at UWC, none of them have been Ballet-related, which is an unfortunate downfall of doing a dance style that is typically considered rather boring to watch. However, dance showcase this year has the theme of “Night at the Movies” which actually contains some ballet movies featuring classic stories and variations.

This year, there is a ballet dance called “Pas de Quatre”, which is the dance of the cygnets in the ballet Swan Lake, used in the movie “Black Swan”. I’m really excited to do this variation, as Swan Lake is truly one of the most class ballets there is, and the music for the piece is very iconic. The downfall is that we are following the real variation almost exactly, and while we all are ballet dancers, the choreography is designed for far more experienced dancers than we are.

So far, we have managed to learn the choreography at a slower rate, but much of the difficulty relies in the stamina and speed, the head movements, and the fact that you must dance while holding each others hands. I enjoy the dance because it is truly beautiful, but it is painful and difficult to dance. I don’t think any of us mind, but it is quite the challenge to learn.

I have high hopes for the performance though, to finally have the opportunity to show my favorite style of dancing and because it is rarely done.

The Week of CultuRama

This week is going to be extremely busy. The schedule has been released and it’s very full; There is rehearsal on Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 9 pm, a dress rehearsal performance with an audience on Wednesday, and two full performances on Thursday. I’m worried about the long hours and managing other work at the same time, and I hope that everything will go as planned.

Monday: We’ve been modifying choreography and changing the music to the full version with a longer introduction than we have used before. We’ve changing the entrance of the dance along with the end formation, and we have to run through the show two times today. We also have to combine with India Garba at the beginning and end of their dance, which is uncomfortable and confusing for everyone. We only have around 15 minutes to figure out this new choreography before we have to head to the auditorium to begin the main rehearsal for the day. We practice one time before the official start on the stage, and there are mistakes from everyone. I’m really worried that we won’t be together, even though the new choreo is supposed to help with this.We switched the placement of the dupatta (scarf) so that it’s further towards the crown of the head, it sort of gets in the way of my arms when I’m turning. It’s a really long day and we ended much later than supposed to.

Extra notes: The other dances were amazing to see, I’ve never seen some of these dance styles before, and everyone is so synchronized and energetic. Seeing all the dances with the full lights and costume, and ours with India Garba, is really beautiful. It mimics the performance so well, the anticipation is building.

Wednesday: We have an audience today during the second rehearsal!! Very exciting but also extremely nerve wracking, we’ve practiced a lot individually and as a group: I listen to the music and watch the videos of the rehearsals on my way to school in the morning, and I feel like the music is really internalized to the point I know all the melodies and even some words. The first rehearsal went well but some minor mistakes, but we’ve fixed the entrance and the exit/entrance mix with Garba. Us reentering into their dance is still a bit messy with the turns but it’s much better than on Thursday. We’ve fixed the dupatta to be much further back over the bun, and everyone already knows what makeup/jewelry/hair needs to be done. No issues with the costume luckily, and much more synchronized. I still think of today as an actual performance even though it isn’t classified as one. Very late night again but more fulfilling to do.

Extra notes: Lots of congratulations from people watching the performance who said it went really well. Helps all of us to feel proud about what we’ve achieved in so short a time, but the real performances are tomorrow.

Thursday: Show Day!! We immediately have to start getting ready from after school onwards because there is only a few hours until the first show. We’re all running around very busy with hair and makeup, and all helping each other and helping the Garba girls as well. We don’t have any costume malfunctions luckily, although using the candles are stressful and some begin to burn out. We fit in a short practice of the end formation outside the auditorium while waiting for out turn, we’re nearly the last dance and have a lot of time. Poorvi and Mansi are very stressed, but we all are. Now is the time for fixing small mistakes that can make or break the dance. My candle placement is on the clear opposite side from where I need to be next, and I’m running across the stage every time to make it before the lights turn on again. It’s very hard to not be obvious side stage when holding bright lights. We’re all very tense but while dancing it is very freeing, it’s exhilarating for everyone when we finish our dance and wait to reenter with Garba. The circle was in the center and the ending was sharp, there were no large mistakes with formation or movement and the turning was synchronized. Poorvi begins the dance extremely well and we all end together, the ending with Garba is also very sharp even though there are a lot of us on stage dancing different things.

Extra notes: Many of my friends came today, and my parents watched the first show. A short break in between where there was food from different cultures, many things that I recognize. There was even pepernoten, a flashback towards being home.

After the Show: Celebration from everyone in the dressing rooms and scrambling to clean up before we all cram into a conference room to hear thank yous and to gives cards and flowers to the organizers and the dance leaders. Lots of cheering and clapping from everyone for a wonderful show with such a variety of dances.

In the end, it was such an amazing experience, and a very unique one that I would have never gotten the opportunity to do other wise. I met girls in different grades and different backgrounds that all worked together with me to produce an amazing dance. I learned a new style of dancing that I had never heard or seen before, and danced for the largest audience I’ve ever danced for.

The biggest takeaway of all? I would do it all over again.

Support and Friendship with Riding with the Disabled (RDA) – First Experience

In 11th grade, and the first year of the IB Diploma Programme, each student choses a Local Service to participate in for the school year. Participating in Local Service allows the student to experience direct service, wherein the student would work directly with people, animals, or the environment to support a goal.

When looking at the options for Local Service, one that really stood out to me was one under the name “Support and Friendship with Riding with the Disabled (RDA)”, and I knew from the moment that I finished reading the description, that I really wanted to be a part of this service. I’ve done recreational horse riding in two countries for the past seven or so years, and I love being around horses. To me, and opportunity to share that excitement with others who may not have the same opportunities seemed perfect. I decided then that I really wanted to work with horses in order to help provide therapy and support to the disabled community in Singapore. Animal therapy is shown to have many positive effects on the body and mind, and horse therapy is one of the most dynamic. The movement of the horse helps loosen muscle tension and stabilize the core, promoting strength all around the body, especially good for children or adults who are rely on crutches or wheelchairs for support. I wanted to able to share my love for horses with others, the way that horse riding is good for the mind, and adapt that to how others could use it to be good for their body as well. I also went to the Riding for the Disabled Association website to read more about what the organization believes in and what they try to achieve. The organization is completely non-profit, the riders who come do not have to pay for their sessions, and the organization relies heavily on donations and charity events in order to support the stable and sessions.

On Friday the 14th of September, I travelled with the other members of my service group to the RDA stable, which is located between the Singapore Polo Club and the National Equestrian Centre. There, we met some other volunteers along with one of the instructors, who guided us through our first time, including the the checklist that we needed to complete and the forms for each rider. I think that one of the small goals that we completed as a group was gaining some understanding of the processes that we will go through weekly, and understanding the style of the stable. Each rider has three supporting people: one to lead the horse and two on either side to physically support and help guide the rider through different exercises.

From riding, I already knowhow to interact and be around horses in a safe manner, additionally I have previously done an activity where I helped beginners to prepare and guide the horse once they were seated. Therefore, I would stay that I am quite comfortable with my ability to be near a horse and also be able to help people who are new to being around horses. This will be one of my strengths that I start off with, although I know I will develop other strengths along the way.

As excited as I was to do this service, I also have a healthy dose of fear (or caution). Although horses can be very gentle animals, especially when trained to be a part of therapy, I still understand that there can be things outside of our control that can alarm, scare, or injure a horse, and that this could be very dangerous to the rider and to those of us in the arena. The member of my group who was leading the horse mentioned at the beginning that our particular pony could be slightly temperamental depending on different factors. This is more of a mental challenge than a physical one for me: to understand the difference between caution and fear. I didn’t know either of the two people that I was working with, as they were not part of UWC, however, they did have previous experience which I feel was important for my first time.

This activity is fairly new to me, not because of the fact that I have to be next to a horse walking, but because of the riders we work with. Although I am not unfamiliar to different physical or mental disabilities that members of all communities face, I don’t find myself working with them very often. The rider that I was working with was quite young, just 7 years old, and has Down Syndrome. There is the combination of age along with condition to work with, and boundaries, because I’m not sure what sort of relationship I am allowed to have with the riders.

I enjoyed myself, the young rider I was working with was extremely excited to be on a horse, and couldn’t wait to tell their mother at the end of the session. They did really well with the different activities, responding with the according action and having short conversations with me and my partner. It was a fun session working with her, and I hope to do so again next week.