Malaysian students win big at Italy’s Fest Info Dance International competition in Rimini

RIMINI (ITALY): The recent floods in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region did not dampen the spirits of 22 students from four Malaysian schools and Akademi Seni Budaya Warisan dan Kebangsaan (Aswara) from clinching four medals at Fest Info Dance Rimini International 2023 Dance competition on Friday (May 19) in the coastal town of Rimini in northern Italy.

The secondary and primary students from SMK(P) Sri Aman, SK Taman Megah, SMK Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya, and SMK Sultan Ismail in Kota Baru are part of the Education Ministry's Cultural Group.

The four awards were Best Costume Overall, Best Talent (seven-year-old Sofea Shazana Ezwan Fansuri, SK Taman Megah).

First Place (Gold) in the Mini, Children, Junior and Senior Category, and Second Place (Silver) in Mini and Junior Category.

The Malaysian students, aged between seven and 20 years old, performed 16 traditional dances from the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Cocos Malay and Orang Ulu communities.

Some of the highlights that showcased the colours of Malaysia included the Minangkabau dance batarung, zapin, joget, pahlawan cilik, Orang Ulu's famed bulu kirip dance, bhangra, and sewang - an Orang Asli dance.

Over 500 dancers from 10 countries, including Belgrade, Russia, Croatia, Montenegro and Romania participated in the competition, organised by the European Association of Folklore Festivals.

The competition attracted dancers from all over the world to participate in various categories, including classical ballet, contemporary dance, hip-hop, and folk dance.

The students had been preparing for the competition for months and were thrilled to finally be able to showcase their talent on an international stage.

Form Five student from SMK (P) Sri Aman student Nur Shazriana Mohamed Shafiee said the multiple wins came as a pleasant surprise for the Malaysian dance troupe.

"We are still in a daze as this was totally unexpected. It's an honour for us to represent Malaysia and showcase our traditional dances to the world.

"We've worked hard to perfect our performances, and we're excited to see how we have fared against dancers from all over the world," she said.

Choreographer Muhammad Samsudin, 34, said each dance was prepared according to the age level of the students participating in the competition.

"The most heartfelt gratitude to all the parents, students and teachers who dedicated their time, effort, and financial support to turn our dream into reality.

"Your support and contributions have been invaluable, and I am deeply grateful.

“By introducing these dance forms at an international level, we can highlight Malaysia's diverse cultural heritage. By performing traditional dances from different states in Malaysia, our homegrown talents have highlighted the country's rich and diverse communities,” said Muhammad, the co-founder of Petaling Jaya-based dance company, ChoreoArts (correct) Studio.

He also performed a solo Perak dance called Tarian Dabus at the competition.

In total, the Malaysian contingent performed 17 dances including Muhammad’s routine.

Contingent leader and SK Taman Megah teacher Darlina A. Razak said the students’ success also serves as an inspiration to other young Malaysians to take pride in their heritage and culture and to preserve it for future generations.

"I am so proud of our students' achievements. I admire the self-discipline, hard work, and support that the students have received from their parents and others to achieve their goals,” said Darlina.

She added the trip was made possible with the support from various parties including Tourism Malaysia, Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated, Petaling Jaya City Council, Adabi and CSVD Costume Rental.

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