Dance troupe withdraws from Chingay 2021 after criticism

Dance Spectrum International dancers performing their routine - a combination of tap dance and lion dance - during filming this month for Chingay 2021, which will be held virtually. The local dance troupe said on Monday that its withdrawal from Ching
Dance Spectrum International dancers performing their routine - a combination of tap dance and lion dance - during filming this month for Chingay 2021, which will be held virtually. The local dance troupe said on Monday that its withdrawal from Chingay "is in consideration of the young dancers affected by cyber bullying". ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Local dance troupe Dance Spectrum International (DSI), which was slated to perform a tap dance segment at Chingay 2021, has decided not to participate in the annual parade held as part of Chinese New Year celebrations.

This was announced on PAssion Chingay Club's Facebook page on Monday, after DSI's segment drew criticism from netizens.

In a video of DSI's preparation for the parade shared by Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao on Dec 11, the dancers could be seen wearing tutus under their lion dance costumes.

A petition asking for the tap dance segment to be dropped from Chingay 2021 garnered over 1,200 signatures, with several people criticising the performance for being inappropriate and disrespectful of tradition.

DSI's posts on its Facebook page publicising the Zaobao article as well as a Straits Times article also drew comments from unhappy netizens, with some calling the performance an insult to lion dance culture. Some said it was "nonsense", and one netizen even called for the dance troupe to be shut down.

Ten dancers from DSI, aged between 14 and 30, were slated to perform the tap dance routine - one of six segments at the parade, which will be held virtually for the first time.

Choreographed by DSI founder and director Sharon Liew, the routine was a combination of tap dance and lion dance, and would have lasted 15 to 20 seconds as part of a four-minute performance called "100 Lions" at the parade.

DSI's withdrawal from Chingay "is in consideration of the young dancers affected by cyber bullying", the troupe said in a joint statement on Monday with the People's Association (PA) and the Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation (SWDLDF).

The three parties had met separately to discuss concerns from key stakeholders and tried to find ways to resolve the matter over the past week, it added.

"All three parties also agreed that while we welcome different views on artistic expression, we do not condone hurtful remarks and personal attacks on individuals posted on social media," it said.

"It is not consistent with the gracious and inclusive society that we wish to see."

PA and SWDLDF said: "We express our support and solidarity with DSI, and hope the young dancers affected will heal from the harm done to them."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2020, with the headline Dance troupe withdraws from Chingay 2021 after criticism. Subscribe