In the month of June, the very first ballet dancer to grace our DOTM is Erica Ng Xiao Qi!
She lived and breathed dance since she was a child, and today she not only possesses a degree in Dance Education under RAD, she is also a RAD certified teacher and the School Head of Le Grand School of Dance. With her patience and love for teaching, it is little wonder that she gathered quite a loyal following of students! Read on to find out more.
Talk me through your dance journey. Who/What inspired you to begin dance?
“I was born into a dance and music family, so they have been always been part of my life since I was a kid. My mum and Godma (my mum’s sister) are dancers/dance teachers and that naturally made me inclined to dance. In fact, my mum didn’t want me in her class, and neither did she suggest for me to start dancing – it was my grandma who did! My first ballet class (and for the first two years) I attended my Godma’s ballet classes before my mum put me in her class, which was mainly the doings of my grandma. My mum feels that it’s hard to teach anything to your own child, and I think it’s still this way up to today… sometimes! So I started taking Ballet exams, and I did Jazz, Contemporary and Flamenco as well during my teenage years. But right now, I’m mostly doing ballet and Flamenco. As I got older, I find myself liking Flamenco more than Jazz and Contemporary, and of course, ballet. No matter how much fun I had in other genres… Ballet is still my “home”. I can still remember the first time I wore my pointe shoes when I was nine! I was brimming with joy.”
What kept you going?
“There are many factors that contributed to it, ballet friends, performances, competitions, the diamantes, and tutu. The biggest reason would really be the love for it, but trust me, it is a love-hate relationship. I do think ballet has helped me as a person, it built my resilience and determination and having to do ballet for so many years, one week without ballet just makes my body feel weird. Especially on my bad days, or when I’m drowned with essays and feeling so suppressed and suffocated, ballet does lift my mood and releases all the tensions (as well as my old bones and joints).”
Any difficulties that you’ve experienced in dancing? And how did you overcome it?
“Fortunately, I have never gotten badly injured where I had to take a long break. The longest I had was one month off from class completely, where I spent the next three months doing minimal movements and almost six months off pointe shoes due to a really bad sprain of my ligament, where there was a slight tear. The best part of this story is that I sprained it while submitting my geography homework in school, and it was the first period of the day. Other than that one injury, there was nothing major, the most I get is a week off from dance to rest.
As for dance wise, I think the most difficult part was the bad days, like on some days my body is just “off”, especially during periods where I’m am training up for something. I would evaluate what is going wrong, and sometimes speak to my mum for some advice, and tell myself tomorrow’s training will be better.”
Having been in the industry for a while now, what changes did you see in the ballet scene in Singapore then and now?
“I think people know ballet a little more now and are appreciating it more. There are more parents who are open to the idea of their child pursuing dance, and there is definitely more awareness and knowledge of dance.”
How do you think ballet in Singapore will change in the future?
“I would think that there will be more opportunities and exposure given to the younger generation. Well, I do think that there might be more Singaporean dancers, but it will be nothing compared to big artistic cities like London or New York, or even cities near us like Hong Kong. At least for the next 10 years – this is due to the high emphasis on paper qualifications in Singapore.”
Read more about the impact of academics on dance here:
What does dance mean to you?
“Dance is something that will never leave me, something that has molded me into who I am today, made me better as a person.”
“Teaching dance was always an option for me, especially when my mum runs a dance school. I actually thought that I wanted to be different from everyone in my “arts” family and wanted to be an event planner. After Polytechnic and my internship at a fantastic company, I had so much fun but I realised after all that, my heart was still with dance and teaching. I love children! My mum never forced me into doing anything. I had a lot of freedom in trying out things, and I guess that’s the best because I’m in this career because I wanted to and not because my mum was a ballet teacher.”
“To only do it because you love it and truly want it. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, especially when teaching hours are right when everyone is out for their weeknight chills, weekend brunches and nights out, and you can’t because you are teaching. While everyone is having fun and going to events on weekends, your weekends are fully burnt out. It only gets worse when your kids’ exams are coming, or you have a performance coming up. I literally eat breakfast, and my next meal is dinner on weekends.”
Finally, any events in the upcoming months that we will be able to catch you at?
“Catch us at Le Grand’s performance in December! 🙂 You can find us at Le Grand on Facebook for more details!”
Erica has also been featured on Youtuber Yan Kay Kay’s channel, guiding her in the art of ballet.
Photo Credits: Chong Zu Ming (@eatlikedinosaur)
YOU CAN READ OUR PREVIOUS DOTMs HERE: