Singapore's ballroom dancing veteran Sunny Low dies at 82

Local artiste Tasha Low mourned the passing of her grandfather, local ballroom dancing legend Sunny Low, on her Instagram. - TASHA LOW/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Three days before ballroom dancing veteran Sunny Low died on Sunday (May 8), the 82-year-old was teaching a 90-minute class on ballroom and Latin dance to 15 students.

He died of a brain haemorrhage in the hospital at about 4pm, leaving behind four children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

His death comes as a shock to family and the dance fraternity, because he was not known to be in poor health.

Low grew up in an Outram shophouse, which was also home to Poh San Dance Studio.

It was set up in 1937 by his father Low Poh San, who was the first to introduce ballroom dancing in Singapore.

The younger Low took up dancing at 14 and was crowned the King of Rock 'n' Roll in 1957 at a dance contest.

He met Aleena Tan - who later became his wife - at the dance studio in 1969.

He made her the lead dancer when he was scouting for talent to establish his own group - Sunny Low Dancers - to perform on stage and television.

The couple established the Sunny Low Dance Studio in 1986 and tied the knot in 1989.

The duo went on to become one of the founding members of the Singapore Ballroom Dance Teachers Association. It placed the country on the global dance scene when it attained membership affiliation with the World Dance Council in 1991.

Hugely passionate about his craft, Tan said of her late husband: "He enjoyed teaching people from all walks of life, including lawyers, doctors, actors and even politicians.

"As a husband, he was a perfectionist and made sure things ran smoothly at home. As a father to his three children, Melvyn, Kelvyn and Jovyn, he was a friend and mentor. He not only cared about dancing but also the other facets of their lives."

Low also became a choreographer for Hong Kong television broadcasting company TVB.

Outside of dance, Low also loved fishing and enjoyed food, especially fresh fish.

Long-time friend Larry Lai, 82, who had known Low for almost 70 years since their secondary school days in Outram Secondary School, describes the dance icon as a cheerful person with a sunny disposition.

In their teenage years, Low patiently attempted to teach his friend, who over time picked up bits and pieces of dance. Lai went on to set up his own broadcasting and music company, Moby Dick Enterprises, and was a well-known radio deejay too.

He assisted Low with the music and emceeing needed in annual international dance competitions, which were organised and hosted by the Sunny Low Dance Studio.

"I was a terrible student with little coordination, but Sunny would insist in teaching me and I would try," Lai told the Straits Times on Tuesday (May 10).

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