Behind the ballerina
BY KUA CHEE SIONG
YOU know household names like Li Jia Wei and Joscelin Yeo.
By Saturday, Kwok Min Yi might take her first step to joining that league.
Min Yi, 17, won a prestigious spot in the final of the Genee International Ballet Competition (regarded as the Olympic Games of the ballet world) at the University Cultural Centre yesterday.
Her selection as one of the 12 finalists is historic because this is the first time that a Singaporean has made it to the competition, let alone the final. And yes, she was 'happy' about making Singapore dance history.
Her dance teacher, Ms Cheah Mei Sing, 35, had a ready explanation for Min Yi's economy with words. 'Min Yi is a more a doer, and not so much of a talker,' she said.
And do she did.
The former student of Singapore Chinese Girl's School beat 53 other dancers (including seven boys), aged between 15 and 19, from 14 countries including Australia, Japan and South Africa.
She will compete for a medal in the finals tomorrow.
Apart from being a competition, the flagship event of Britain's Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) also attracts talent scouts, choreographers and artistic directors from all over the world. They will cast a keen eye on rising stars to groom.
Among those plucked from obscurity at previous events are British ballet legend Margot Fonteyn and Russian-born superstar Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Min Yi has been dancing since she was 4 with the Crestar School of Dance. She joined the Singapore Ballet Academy when she was13.
Leaving for London
She will be leaving soon for the English National Ballet School in London on a National Arts Council (NAC)Arts Scholarship.
She has firm ideas on her future: 'Dance is my life,' she said.
This is the first time in its 78-year history that the Genee is being held in South-east Asia.
It is being presented here together with the NAC.
The competition is open to those who have passed the Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 examination in Classical Ballet with distinction, or those who have been awarded the Solo Seal award, the final and top examination in the academy.
RAD's artistic director Lynn Wallis said the Genee presents a unique experience for amateur dancers.
'It's not often that a dancer, especially of that age, has a chance to be part of the creative process, to the extent of working on a solo variation choreographed specifically for them,' she said.
For the past week, the dancers were given a taste of what a professional career in dance might be like, going through gruelling eight-hour-long coaching sessions.
For the finals, the dancers will be judged on their footwork, ability to engage the audience, and their choice of music.
And even if one dancer is clearly better than the others, that doesn't mean that he or she will bag the gold medal ' standards are so high that there were years when no gold medals were given out because the judges felt the dancers were not up to scratch.
For Min Yi, however, it doesn't matter whether she gets a medal.
'After you set a goal, go one step at a time,' she said. 'My dream is to be a professional dancer.'
adapted from "http://www.asiaone.com/News/Education/Story/A1Story20090911-167394.html "
The Genee international ballet competition is originated in 1931 and also to commemorate Dame Adeline Genee DBE, a reputable and outstanding ballerina in Ballet. The Genee competition is dedicated to promoting and rewarding standards of excellence in young ballet dancers internationally. Competitors have to be between 15 to 19 years old and must have attained a distinction grade in the Advanced 2 Classical Ballet examination or awarded the Solo Seal award, which is the highest examination in the academy. This year, 2009, Singapore had the honor to host The Genee International ballet competition and is the first Southeast-Asian country to do so.
Kwok Min Yi, is the first Singaporean competitor to get into the finals and she has definitely made an impact in Singapore’s dance history. She has received the NAC Arts scholarship to London, to further her studies in Ballet.