Sport Singapore to launch structured street dance programme for youth

Recognize's managing director Goh Xiang Tian (pictured) said the programme will allow beginners to have a proper progression path. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GOH XIANG TIAN

SINGAPORE - On the way to work, Marcus Tan used to observe groups of teenagers dancing in public, using glass panels as mirrors or searching for a suitable place to follow a YouTube dance video.

That made Tan, chief of Sport Singapore's sport development group, realise that there was a demand for dance classes and venues as well as an opportunity to reach out to youth and get them to stay active through non-traditional platforms.

Instructors from Recognize Studios, with whom SportSG worked at the recent Lion City Dance Convention, also confirmed that.

As a result, SportSG's ActiveGroove club - which opened in 2018 - will receive an upgrade in the form of a structured street dance programme set to be launched in September.

It is believed to be the first time SportSG will have a structured programme for a non-traditional sport. The club is part of ActiveSG's family of academies and clubs.

Street dance includes genres such as hip hop, which includes upcoming Olympic sport breaking. It will be one of the disciplines on show at the ongoing inaugural YouthCreates Urban Fiesta, which ends on Sunday (Aug 7) at the Singapore Sports Hub. The fiesta also showcases a range of urban activities such as parkour, skateboarding and dance competitions.

Tan told The Straits Times: "We recognise that typically when you think about street dance, it's freestyle.

"But as we interact with our partners, we also realised that it's freestyle and creative, but there are basic skill sets that you should establish that will allow you to exercise and dance safely."

The club used to hold more recreational zumba classes where students learnt choreographed pieces selected by the instructor.

Classes under the programme, when launched, will be split into Basic and Advance. SportSG aims to hold the programmes once a quarter and classes will take place once a week between six and 10 weeks.

The agency is hoping to see at least 1,000 sign-ups during its first roll-out. Classes will be taught by instructors from Recognize Studios.

Founder of Recognize Studios Felix Huang welcomed the news as it would help grow the base of dancers in Singapore.

"I'm excited about this. This can reach out to more people and make them more aware about dance and potentially pick it up as a hobby or career. (They) can also gain access to proper education and information about what dance is all about."

Before the Internet era, Huang, 41, used to visit a video shop at Far East Plaza, wait for the shop to play dance videos and sometimes purchase the videotapes so he and his friends could practise by themselves.

Now, most people rely on the Internet and online videos for information about the activity and its genres.

Recognize's managing director Goh Xiang Tian, 32, added that the programme would allow beginners to have a proper progression path. "As more people pick up street dance, they will be more aware of the different studios and what they have to offer in terms of education or opportunities, gearing them up to either compete, perform or pick it up as a career.

"All these culminate in our dance scene growing stronger and in turn, produces more hardworking individuals who want to fight to put our little red dot on the world map."

Tan, 49, said the short-term goal would be to grow the base population first before looking at building a pipeline towards having representation in competitions.

Sport Singapore's sport development group chief Marcus Tan. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

He added: "Of course, there are a lot of other values tied to street dance. My own son picked it up four years ago, he's 20 and I've seen him grow more confident.

"These are values we encourage such as being able to deal with the pressure of competitions... important things we want our youth to continue to develop."

Goh added: "We hope that with the roll-out of more ActiveSG events, we will get to meet more like-minded individuals who are willing to grow and support us on this endeavour. Even if you have never danced before, take the first step, you'll never know what you can achieve because I, too, started with two left feet, but here I am today."

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