Hello everyone! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU and welcome to 2019! Starting the year off fresh is our latest Dancer Of The Month, Mark Timothy Gabriel Ng. Find a cozy seat (or standing in the train is also great) while you read about his inspiring dance journey!
Having only started dancing at the age of 17, Mark has risen through the ranks to become one of the young emerging dancers leading the local dance scene as a part of Limited Edition, one of Singapore’s leading dance crews. How did he do it? Read on to find out.
But first, watch his latest dance cover of “Solo” by Jennie Kim alongside Limited Edition:
Talk me through your dance journey. Who/What inspired you to begin dance?
“When I started doing my first dance project it was for an inter-school dance competition in Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) called ‘Dance For Fun’ (DFF). At first, I thought nothing of it, sort of a like an extra-curricular activity for me to get to know my friends more or just bond with the freshmen of my cohort. But somehow I stuck with it and I don’t know why. The next thing I knew I was auditioning for NP’s Hip Hop Dance Club, New Revolving Age (NRA). Through NRA I was exposed to many different genres and styles of dance, and I think it gave me a good exposure to how I wanted to dance.
I remembered for the longest time I was, and probably still am, heavily influenced by a particular dancer – Yanis Marshall. He was known for a very campy style of men dancing in heels and I discovered him before all the glitz and glamour that surrounds him now, going back to his days in a tiny studio in Paris.
Eventually, I worked at this craft – this lifestyle – because after a few years, dance wasn’t just a hobby anymore, it became a lifestyle for me. Throughout the years as a student in NP, I participated in DFF every year, be it as a mentor, choreographer, or a dancer. I felt that I owed it to my roots to give back and eventually I became a choreographer for NRA’s Annual Production in 2016.
Soon after I got approached by Andreas Chua, my current mentor, and crew leader, to join under Limited Edition Singapore in a street competition, Arena Singapore 2017. Under her expert guidance, we won and went on to represent Singapore on the International Stage in Chengdu, China. Many amazing opportunities have since followed and I became an official member of Limited Edition, a crew that has been active for 10 years and specialise in an artistic androgynous style transcending typical street genres.
I am now currently serving my National Service in the Music and Drama Company under So Drama Entertainment, it has been an eventful experience, to say the least, but I can’t wait to burst back into the local dance scene, passion reignited.”
What kept you going?
“I kept going because dance constantly challenges me, in more ways than one. I’ve made the best of friends, become a stronger person, and am living my best life all because of dance. Most importantly, dance has helped define who I am, what I want and where I’m going, it has helped me find my self-worth, and if anything I am thankful for everyone and every experience I’ve gotten. Dance had become a part of me and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.”
Any difficulties that you experienced dancing? And how did you overcome it?
“I have met many difficulties in dance. Well firstly, learning to dance. I was horrible when I started out, flat-out two left feet. But I got a euphoria every time I moved, I wasn’t dancing for people to see or for fame and glory, I danced because I was doing it for me, and I really didn’t care even if people looked down on me. I built my confidence from dance and I wear it like my armour every day. I’ve never been the kind of person to dwell on negative emotions or comments because what’s the point? Move forward with a clearer vision, we owe that to ourselves.”
Any wise words that you keep in your heart when the going gets tough?
“It may be the silliest of lines but I kind of remember this line that a friend, Elisya, said “you do you boo”, but hey, I can honestly say it took me some time to reach there, to do things my way. But I know that I’m my authentic self especially on stage or when I dance. Facts are facts.”
Do you intend on continuing to pursue dance as a career after serving National Service? Please elaborate on your choice
“This I’m not sure, my parents are supportive, and I’m actually surprised at their support. I was born into a military family, full-time service father and a commando brother, and here I am dancing for the nation for the last 4 years now. For now, it’s an option but I’d want to see where the road leads me first.”
Please define what Community means to you.
“The people that relate to you, the struggles that we all commonly face, and in the dance community there are many of these struggles. We somehow vibe off each other with that, working with each other to better ourselves, a blade against another blade will only make us sharper with each stroke. “
After actively participating in many national-scale events under Limited Edition, how do you think dance has evolved for you?
“Oh wow, a lot, I’ve changed and grown so much. In retrospect, I was a child in school, and probably still am in the eyes of some. But, I look back and I see someone that had no direction and was putting a front half the time to please everyone, I felt I was not being genuine. But now I feel refreshed, as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, I know that I just have to be true to myself and only then will I feel self-actualisation. Dance has shaped me from my polytechnic days to post-polytechnic and with Limited Edition. I couldn’t be more grateful as dance is more than just a hobby or an activity to me, its a way of life.”
Pertaining to the previous question, in your perspective, how has dance evolved in the local community?
“I think the local dance community is growing, slowly but surely. And I love it. I love that there are more cultures being shared around, which shows that we can all constantly grow.
Aside from that, our current dance community is ever-changing and that’s great. We are constantly challenged to evolve and we are never stagnant. International dancers come down to Singapore frequently to spread their craft, dance cultural exchanges and platforms have never been more available, we have the annual Radikal Forze (RF) Jam in March and many more. This culture of constant growth is great and I think that the best for our community has still yet to come.”
What do you hope to see in the future for the Singapore dance scene?
“I hope that dancers are unafraid to step into classes that they wouldn’t go. Challenge yourself, grow, be unashamed to dance your heart out in classes and every platform you get, that’s the beauty of the art scene. You have the right to share your own truth.”
To all dancers that intend to juggle National Service and dance, any words of advice for them?
“If there’s a will there’s a way, everyone has a way of coping. Many dancers have been through NS and made it out alive. I’m sure that if you really want it, you can keep that fire going.”
Finally, any events in the upcoming months that we will be able to catch you at?
“As for now I have to keep things under wraps but, be sure I’ll be around. For now, I definitely have my mind on going back to my alma mater, NRA, to be part of their biannual production Danzation. “
You can find out more about Mark through his Instagram!