Off Stage

Getting into character - in the loo

Dancer- choreographer Norhaizad Adam says dealing with mistakes helps him become a better performer.
Dancer- choreographer Norhaizad Adam says dealing with mistakes helps him become a better performer. PHOTO: P7:1SMA

Dancer-choreographer Norhaizad Adam is the founder of a new dance group called Prisma, which aims to blend Malay traditional dance with contemporary dance. The group will attempt to dance with balloons tied to the dancers' bodies in their debut performance, titled Belon (the Malay word for balloon), at the Substation Theatre this weekend.

The 29-year-old is engaged to fellow dancer Hasyimah Harith, 26, who is also in the group.

Do you remember your first performance? What was it like?

It was in 2004, when I joined Malay contemporary dance group Azpirasi. We had our first show at the old Victoria Theatre. I was extremely nervous. It was the first time I had performed in a real theatre with a big team in front of so many people.

I had stage fright during the rehearsals and the show, but after that, I felt the satisfaction of doing something and getting hooked on it. That's when I knew I wanted to continue dancing.

How do you prepare yourself for a show?

About half an hour before the show starts, I have to answer nature's call. The big one. I look for a clean toilet with a big cubicle. I talk to myself, going through the intentions of the dance, getting into character. It works for me.

What do you do when you make a mistake?

Improvise. But it's not as easy as it sounds. You need a lot of practice and you need to go through mistake after mistake to be able to improvise.


  • WHERE: The Substation Theatre, 45 Armenian Street

    WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, 8.30pm

    ADMISSION: $25 from

That's the beauty of it. It helps me to be a better performer. There were moments during my first few performances when I panicked and worried what others would think. But after that, I just get on the spot and decide what I'm going to do.

Any memorable experiences on stage?

I remember an incident in 2005 when I performed at an outdoor festival in Indonesia. Halfway during the show, the music was cut. We didn't know what to do, so we tried to continue. We heard the choreographer whispering to us to improvise and slowly exit the stage, which we did. Then the music started again, so we rushed back in to continue the dance. It was pretty obvious what had happened.

What do you like about dancing and choreography?

It is always an unexpected journey and every rehearsal and performance is a discovery. As a dancer, you get to figure out something new with your body and when I choreograph, there's always a change that takes me somewhere and surprises me.

Where do you go when you have post-show supper cravings?

My friends and I like to have our makan at Kampong Glam cafe. We always order bee hoon goreng with beef, and kopi.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline Getting into character - in the loo. Subscribe