Sze Chan, 32, Dancer
Posted on 18 June, 2012
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It’s never too late to chase your dreams. I remember meeting Sze-Wei Chan a couple of years ago, and being well, in awe. She had walked away from a prestigious scholarship and a promising career as a diplomat to pursue her love of dance. Sze wasn’t formally trained – she had done a fair bit of aerobics, but stumbled into a modern dance class when she was an undergraduate at Columbia University – and fell head over heels.
Five years after returning home and serving her bond, she found herself auditioning with teenagers a decade younger than her at LASALLE College of the Arts – only to be told the programme wasn’t for mature students like her. [Edit: A spokesperson from LASALLE says: "Things have changed, and the dance programme has accepted mature students in recent years."]
“I knew I was older than most people going into dance programmes, but I didn’t quite expect to not go to Lasalle. I had quit my job. And I didn’t get in,” says the now 32 year old. “So i called up Dr. Carino (the head of dance) at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and I think they saw something they could work with.”
Was it hard walking away from the practical path? “I miss the money and the people, but not the work,” she shrugs. “It took me a long time to figure out dance was what I really wanted to do. I reached a point when I realised I was really miserable. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do.”
At her three years in NAFA, she worked closely with Nirmala Seshadri, a Bharatanatyam teacher – who later became her friend and collaborator. Together, they created I Watched The Flowers – a meditation on womanhood, maturity and love, which was inspired by the poetry of Singaporean writer Dan Ying. It is showing on 28 and 29 June at The Substation.
“I look at all these Asian dance forms and see the deep history and tradition. This belongs to Asia. I don’t have classical training, but the more I learn, the more it makes sense to me,” says Sze. She recently finished a project with Kham Company in France, and intends to continue as an independent artist, and create Asian-centric work.
“People ask me why I want to dance in Singapore. Why not go somewhere else. I say, Singapore drives me crazy, and when it keeps me insane, I create,” she says half-jokingly. Crazy or not, we want whatever keeps you doing.
I Watched The Flowers – a meditation on womanhood, maturity and love is on 28 and 29 June at 8pm at the Substation.
This and That by Nirmala Seshadri. Photo by James Wong.
Boundaries, Dreams, Beyond… by Raka Maitra. Photo by James Wong.
Profile Picture by Enrick Koan