Dancers past and present pair up

Different generations come together in a performance that celebrates the 25-year history of Frontier Danceland

Current Frontier Danceland dancer Adele Goh (left) with former dancer Lee Hwee Ming (right).
Current Frontier Danceland dancer Adele Goh (left) with former dancer Lee Hwee Ming (right).PHOTO: BERNIE NG

Dr Lee Hwee Ming will be hanging up her stethoscope next weekend to take the stage for a Frontier Danceland production next week.

The 51-year-old family physician - who has not danced since she left the troupe where she was a part-time project dancer from 2002 to 2007 - is part of a work pairing eight of the company's former dancers with eight current dancers.

Frontier's co-founder and artistic director Low Mei Yoke had asked her late last year to be part of Milieu 2016, a work that celebrates the 25-year history of the company, which went professional in 2011.

Dr Lee says: "I figured if she could ask someone as old as me, she could not have been expecting me to do anything too challenging."

Initially, she experienced muscle aches for four to five days following rehearsals.

She says: "I have had to overwork certain muscle groups that I have not used much for a long time. Imagine trying to pirouette or do extensions after 10 years of hiatus."

Low created the work to present the past, present and future of the company. The decision to invite former dancers was to pay homage to its past.

"I initially wanted to have 20 of them in the show. But it was tough. They have busy lives and some have knee and ankle problems," says Low, 61.

The former dancers, who range in age from 28 to 51, will perform for about 15 minutes in the hour-long work. Rehearsals for them started at once a week and increased to twice a week in recent months. The rehearsals take place after hours.

The current company dancers rehearse daily.

Company dancer Joy Wang, 24, has enjoyed interacting with the former dancers.

She says: "It's nice to have different generations together to share the stage. Some of them used to train in the company's old studio in Marine Parade and some were at Stamford Arts Centre."

While the company is now based at Goodman Arts Centre, Milieu 2016 will be held at School of the Arts Drama Theatre on Nov 18 and 19.

Low will also be making an appearance in the show, her first time in 30 years.

Her last dance performance was for a show choreographed by Singapore dance pioneer Goh Lay Kuan for the Practice Performing Arts School.

"Last time, I could do certain things. But it's not about trying to achieve the standards of last time, but about accepting ourselves for who we are right now," she says.

The show will incorporate a dance film by multi-media artist Kelvin Chew that features the current company artists. Low will not appear in the film, to suggest how things might be in the future.

Photos of the company's 25- year-old journey will be displayed at a photography exhibition in the foyer of the theatre.

"We have had ups and downs, but we found that when one door closes, we have to knock on another door," says Low, adding that there was a point when she was in her early 40s when the company kept a low profile due to her poor health.

"The show is about our journey. Everyone has his own journey. It's about how we chase our own dreams."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Dancers past and present pair up'. Subscribe