Putting their best foot forward

Doing Malaysia proud: (Left) Nur Aleeya Syamimie Roszaiful performing the Kepang dance during the competition.

RIMINI: A team of 22 students from four Malaysian schools and Akademi Seni Budaya Warisan dan Kebangsaan (Aswara) are thrilled their hard work in preparing for the Fest Info Dance Rimini International 2023 competition was not in vain after landing a day before massive floods hit Italy’s northern region.

The primary and secondary students from SMK (P) Sri Aman, SK Taman Megah and SMK Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya, and SMK Sultan Ismail in Kota Baru, who are part of the Education Ministry’s cultural group, brought home four medals from Friday’s competition that took place here.

Sofea Shazana Ezwan Fansuri, seven, from SK Taman Megah, won the Best Costume Overall and Best Talent awards, while a group of young dancers bagged First Place (Gold) in the Mini, Children, Junior and Senior category, as well as Second Place (Silver) in the Mini and Junior categories.

Teachers, parents and students who landed in Bologna, Italy, on May 16 were told by the bus driver that some roads might be closed as precautionary measures.

Human Resources practitioner Liana Haris, 45, said Rimini looked like a sleepy town with no one in sight when they arrived.

“Thankfully, we arrived on the eve of the big flood. It looked like a ghost town!” she said.

She said a trip to Venice the next day was called off due to road closures.

“We were stuck in traffic for five hours. Despite the challenges, the children were in good spirits,” said Liana, whose sons were participants.

“They sang, indulged in TikTok, took selfies and became friends.

“With good teamwork, they supported each other,” Liana said.

Erin Sonia Colin, 14, from SMK (P) Sri Aman, was jubilant over her team’s win as she spent two nights a week for the last three months attending dance classes at night.

“It was tiring. I also had to attend tuition and finish my homework but it was worth it,” she said.

Kelantan’s sole representative Nur Husnina Sahira Mohd Rafie, 17, who spent her weekends travelling to Petaling Jaya for classes was ecstatic.

“I am so happy I got to travel and dance on the international stage,” she said.

The Malaysian students, aged between seven and 20, performed 16 traditional dances from the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Cocos Malay and Orang Ulu communities while the choreographer performed one dance.

Some of the highlights included Minangkabau dance batarung, zapin, joget, pahlawan cilik, Orang Ulu’s famed bulu kirip dance, bhangra, and sewang, an Orang Asli dance.

Choreographer Muhammad Samsudin, 34, said the Malaysian contingent performed 17 dances showcasing dance forms from different Malaysian states.

He said each dance was prepared according to the students’ age level.

“Our homegrown talents have highlighted our rich and diverse communities and done the country proud,” said Muhammad, who performed a solo Perak dance called Tarian Dabus.

Contingent leader and SK Taman Megah teacher Darlina A. Razak said the success served as an inspiration to other young Malaysians to take pride in their heritage and culture.

“I am so proud of their achievements. I admire their self-discipline, hard work and support from their parents,” said Darlina.

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