A POSTER I recently chanced upon promoting a “Dance4Charity” event brought back fond memories of my early childhood.
My parents enrolled me in a ballet school when I was four, literally not long after I could walk steadily.
They wanted me to develop useful skills such as good posture, balance and precision as well as good mental attitudes like appreciation for art, discipline, determination and perseverance.
Ballet was fun but at times I had to bear with painful muscle cramps and ankle sprains. On the whole, I enjoyed the training to be a young ballerina and made many new friends. I obtained a diploma and continued until a month before I sat for the SPM exam.
I used to complain and question my parents for putting me through the unnecessary regimentation since I did not aspire to be a dance teacher or performer and would not be required to dance my way to work. But later I realised that the strict and tough training had helped me become a pretty good gymnast and a cheer-leading captain in school and stood me in good stead in my career especially in the public arena.
Curious, I checked and discovered that the Dance4Charity event is one where children aged seven and above and young adults are invited to enrol for dance workshops to learn one to four dance genres in five days and then perform in a public theatre one day later. What a feat!
How wonderful it is for a young person to learn to dance and perform and to know that their effort contributes to charity.
The Dance4Charity workshops are organised by Dancesteps Studio in Solaris Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.
The founder and principal of the dance academy, Shirena Hamzah is an energetic and passionate professional dance trainer and performer with a big heart when it comes to lending a hand to the needy. Having performed professionally, she pursued a degree in Hawaii where she studied dance in the Honolulu Dance Studio and Pacific Intercultural Academy of Performing Arts. Her repertoire includes ballet, tap, modern, jazz, lyrical and musical theatre.
She has Clara Lim, a full-time instructor who won the top award for precision in tap dance at the 2002 Hawaii International Dance Festival, to assist her in running the workshops.
Shirene said, “As the dance workshops are the heart of Dance4Charity, I am flying in two world-renowned dance instructors from New York, Jay T Jenkins and Dawud Jackson who will conduct a performance-intensive workshop.
These workshops will run from Sept 15 to 19 at Dancesteps Studio in Solaris Mont Kiara, and the genres offered are musical theatre, street jazz, contemporary and lyrical ballet.”
Participants will gain a fresh perspective of dancing from this workshop, she assures.
The visiting instructors have amazing credentials and experience in both performing and coaching.
Jay T Jenkins is the creator of the “Jazz Funk” style which combines classical and stylised jass, modern, tap and funk/hop-hop. A teacher for the Joffrey Ballet in New York and Miami, he also choreographs in feature films, music videos and recording artist’s concert tours and has choreographed concert pieces for Ohio State University, Princeton University, Montclair State University, DeSales University, Bolles Dance Theater, Florida and many others. Jay has worked with big names like Prince, Salt N’ Pepa, Kool Moe Dee, Cyndi Lauper, Jennifer Lopez, Color Me Badd and many others.
Dawud Jackson is the creative director of The Well Performance Project. He teaches jazz and modern dance at the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Department of Physical Education at Kean University.
He has performed and choreographed for numerous professional dance companies in the United States.
A member of the National Dance Education Organisation and Dance New Jersey, he was selected for The 2010 Heritage Registry of Who’s Who for his accomplishments and achievement in the field of Repertory Dance.
This is a very rare opportunity for children and young adults who are currently learning to dance to learn from these two great American dance instructors and to experience performing to a real audience, and at the same time contribute to charity.
The enrolment fee for such an exciting five-session workshop is RM360 per genre and it includes two tickets to the Performance Preview on Sept 20.
The Gala Night is the actual performance and will be held on Sept 21 at the Gardens Theatre in Mid Valley City and the guest of honour is Toh Puan Sri Wan Hidayah Wan Ismail, wife of Terengganu Regency Advisory Council president Tengku Sri Panglima Raja Tengku Baderulzaman Sultan Mahmud.
There will be guest dancers from the University of Malaya and Aswara, an academy for art, culture and heritage.
The young participants will stage what they have learnt during the workshop just a few days ago.
Each ticket for the Gala Night is issued for a minimum donation of RM300 and the proceeds will be given to two charitable organisations — Fugee School and Make A Wish Malaysia.
Frankly, if I were in that eligible age range, I would be thrilled to participate and learn from the great dance instructors and perform for charity.