Lauded Singapore dancer dies

Neila Sathyalingam.
Neila Sathyalingam.

Cultural Medallion recipient Neila Sathyalingam, co-founder of Apsaras Arts dance company, died in her sleep this week. She would have been 79 this year.

The news broke on Facebook yesterday through a post by artist Aravinth Kumarasamy, her successor at Apsaras Arts.

Tomorrow, the troupe will perform Sathyalingam's final co- creation in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, the city where she gave her first public dance performance.

In 1989, she received the Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest arts honour, for her contribution to the arts scene.

Under her lead, Apsaras Arts developed a unique style, blending its foundation in classical Indian bharatanatyam with influences from South-east Asia. The troupe has performed in London, Liverpool, Dubai, Paris, Berlin, as well as in the region.

She also worked as a dance instructor and choreographer with the People's Association for decades, choreographing dance segments for 13 consecutive Chingay parades from 1994 to 2007, and also teaching at community centres.

Her husband, S. Sathyalingam, died in 2011. They had three daughters and a son.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Lauded Singapore dancer dies'. Print Edition | Subscribe