ON LEARNING DANCE IN 2020: A Series of Personal Reflections by SWBC Students, PART 1

Passion that drives 
by Ashlynn Ann Su Chern

When the pandemic hit, we seem to have entered a tunnel of darkness filled with uncertainty, forced into isolation. How does a teen cope with this infinite spiral of bleakness? Restlessness, boredom and loneliness were inevitable daily companions. The one streak of light for me was the dance classes which helped transform my otherwise dull, gloomy days. Dance was like the source of light I looked forward to each week. Hearing the familiar voices of my SWBC teachers and dancing to their instructions helped me overcome the challenges of the long months of the pandemic. Despite the roller coaster of a year that coronavirus has imposed on us, I managed to escape a pessimistic perspective that focuses only on the negatives and looked instead at the blessed opportunity to dance around the home. Imagine a life without obstacles, a journey without struggles: how monotonous would our paths be?

After persevering  through countless online classes, I am happy to note some little achievements. For one thing, my balancing has improved. When using a chair at home as a bar, I need to hold myself up more and lift my supporting hip for stability. Hence, I learnt to balance myself more. With online classes, we have to practice self correction more often. Every class, I concentrate on details of movements and set goals for myself like focusing on one specific technique at a time. To illustrate, I pay attention to turnout on one day, balance for another or feet on the next. Sometimes, I switch my focus to different techniques in one class or try multiple techniques at once. Additionally, dancing at home taught me better spatial awareness on how to use the limited space at home wisely. Although learning ballet online allows more leeway, I do try my best to wear proper ballet attire and tie my hair neatly to avoid distractions from it, treating e-learning like any normal physical class. Usually, I make sure my device has enough battery to last the class to ensure that there is no interruption on my side.

I am so grateful to have been selected to join SWBC’s scholars programme this year. It has definitely helped me grow and develop my technique. With scholars, I matured in my passion with the extra classes. It pushes and challenges me, enhances my style, strengthens my technique and gives me the opportunity to learn new ballet terminology, vocabulary and movements. Initially, I struggled with picking up the choreography fast, but the kind support and understanding shown to me by our principal, Ms Lee, encouraged me. Although the level and standards were high, the confidence Ms Lee entrusted in me kept me going. She nudged me to a level even beyond what I thought I was capable of. The teachers from Sri Wilayah too remain incredibly positive and committed and put in much effort to guide us through. They make the best of the circumstances: they make classes interesting and give extra exercises to strengthen and help with flexibility. They are not stingy with time and generously offer helpful corrections even through Zoom. My teacher even offered free instagram live classes for motivation.

One further way SWBC ensures we grow is by encouraging us to try different genres of dance rather than limiting our knowledge and skills to ballet only. Thus, I am glad to have the opportunity to learn contemporary dancing under the Scholars programme. The pandemic has taught us resilience. It reminds us to appreciate the little things like the ability to dance in the studio. What we took for granted is now a luxury, but we have to adapt, be flexible and make the most out of every opportunity. In the year to come, a future of limitless uncertainty, I hope that all dancers can return to the studio for classes. I hope to grow in my technique and style as well as to continue improving in dance. Overall, I’m immensely thankful to be able to attend Sri Wilayah and to be a part of this school. 

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