Dance in Singapore

Life in Singapore

Dance in Singapore comprises traditional and contemporary forms. It has a relatively short history of creative, artistic and professional dance. The range of dance reflects the cultural diversity of Singapore.[1] There is a consistent struggle between the rejection and acceptance of western dance influences and the re-emphasis of ethnic cultures from time to time. The Singapore identity through dance is a challenging one often on an outward looking perception rather than the acceptance and recognition of indigenous/original creativity. Notable non-profit artistic dance legacy include ECNAD and Arts Fission Company.

Traditional styles

Singapore is a multinational country. Though its predominant ethnicity is Chinese, there are also other Asian communities, especially Indians, Malays and Indonesians.

Post-War history (in search of identity)

1959–1969 (the pre-professional dance years)

National Theatre built in 1963


National Dance Festival was organised in 1978.

Singapore Festival of Dance

Traditional dance (1980s)& setup of National Arts Council

A student from the Bukit View Primary School in Singapore performs a cultural dance with classmates for US President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush during their visit on 16 November 2006, to the city's Asian Civilisations Museum.

Eversince, Arts Council of Singapore has developed into one of the biggest and most ambitious arts council in the world with adequate staff strength covering all aspects of the arts in Singapore. The only problem is that there seems to be less direct funding available for dance projects over the years and company directors for dance that not adequately supported to power their training, outreach and community efforts. All of which are areas that the council has taken charge themselves. So, private initiative seems to be dying off slowly but surely.

Ballet (government initiated company)

Structured formal dance training (1990s)

In the 1990s Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) started Singapore's first full-time Modern Dance programme. The programme was headed by Angela Liong and offered all-rounded dance theory and technique program including Martha Graham's technique and dance improvisation. Her programme was delivered with strong contemporary arts references and education on top of the regular dance training plus many workshops through an exchange programme whereby many American dance artists have worked with the students then. The existing pioneers of contemporary dance were students from this programme.

Over the years, Dance at NAFA has grown from a fledgling start into an established and reputable department with the help of better funding availability from the government. The Department of Dance has survived and thrived largely because of the capable direction as well as vision of several committed individuals. The initiatives of these individuals, who are respected in Singapore's dance community, have eventually contributed to today's distinctive Diploma in Dance program that combines contemporary Asian and Western performance and creative practices. LaSalle is another institution that offer dance diploma programme as well as the newly set up SOTA. However, there is a lot more room for synergy between Government, Institutions and Arts Companies to build a common vision for the local dance scene. Currently, new generation of trained dancers are moving more into commercial and school projects, less are really to contribute in the artistic arena.

Currently, most of the local institution trained dancers do not work with artistic companies. They tend to go into child care, teaching in schools and taking ad-hoc commercial projects. The lack of professional artistic dancers is further worsened by this trend.

The Singapore Dance Theatre also provides a training programme for dancers and choreographers just like any of the local dance groups too.

Creative contemporary dance identity in Singapore


Singapore Street Dance

External links

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