Chinese student loves Malay dance
Nicholas Ho from SP has been involved in the art form for 10 years
This 18-year-old Singapore Polytechnic (SP) student has been doing Malay dance for a long time.
Mr Nicholas Ho, a second-year applied chemistry student, has been involved with the art form for 10 years. His journey began in Primary 2 when he joined his school's hip-hop enrichment class.
After the programme ended, he was given the option to continue his pursuit of dance as part of his co-curricular activity (CCA) but he had only three choices - Malay, Chinese and Indian dance.
Mr Ho, who is a Chinese Singaporean, chose the first as he was intrigued by its traditions and the cultural differences, and he stayed on all the way to Primary 6.
He told The New Paper: "It is in my nature. I like to be different, and I have a thirst for knowledge."
He added that whenever he tells others about his Malay dance background, they are surprised and curious. His family has been supportive of his passion.
"My family will always ask when my next performance will be so that they can watch me perform," said Mr Ho.
He represented his primary school in various competitions, such as the Singapore Youth Festival that happens every two years, where his team clinched the distinction award twice.
He developed such a high ability in Malay dance that he applied for the Direct School Admission to Anderson Secondary School based on his CCA and was accepted.
He was also given the opportunity to join the Dance Talent Development programme, which is managed by Lasalle College of the Arts to provide students the access to quality training by professional dance companies.
Under the year-long programme, Mr Ho was attached to the Era Dance Theatre, a Malay dance company, where he was exposed to the various traditional, contemporary and new creative Malay dances.
Said Mr Ho: "I learnt the meanings behind each dance move and how most Malay dance movements relate back to nature."
His experience in the programme deepened his interest, and he joined the Malay Language Society (MLS) in SP.
"I found out more about the culture besides Malay dance, such as dikir barat (a style of Malay choral singing). I also learnt that Muslims study the Arabic language," he said.
Mr Ho even follows Malay customs by using the salam greeting with his Muslim peers.
He also picked up a bit of the Malay language and learnt how to play the congkak, a traditional game played by two with a wooden board that has seven holes on each side.
Mr Ho continues to participate actively in the MLS recitals, and he performed in a production called Pusaka last week under the SP Arts Fiesta, a month-long celebration of dance, music and theatre held annually in the school.
Said Mr Ho: "The most important thing I've learnt is that in the end, we are all the same.
"Despite the differences in culture and tradition, everyone is equal."