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Dancer, 23, is first Singaporean Chinese woman to perform full bharatanatyam recital

SINGAPORE - In Secondary 1, Soo Mei Fei and her classmates saw a poster outside their National Junior College classroom which advertised: 'Indian dance try-out'.

"There were 15 of us, mostly non-Indians, and we decided to join as we thought it would be Bollywood," she recalled.

To their disappointment, it was in fact Indian classical dance. But Soo persisted.

Last Tuesday (Jan 26), the 23-year-old made history as the first Singaporean Chinese woman to perform a full-fledged bharatanatyam recital on stage.

In the audience at the Goodman Arts Centre Black Box was veteran local dancer and choreographer V. Balakrishnan, who said: "The performance was not a debut but that of a professional dancer.

"I have no words to express the standard and quality of Mei Fei's performance from the first piece itself. She has a very bright future."

Soo's arangetram (stage debut) had a challenging repertoire, with difficult shabdam, varnam, padam, javali and thillana - key elements in the Indian classical dance form bharatanatyam.

But, more importantly, she had to tellingly show expressions of love for the lord as the theme was Mohamana: The Love Within.

"I was nervous before going up on stage despite all the preparation," Soo told tabla!. "Whether you are Chinese or Indian, arangetram is one of the biggest events in your dancing career and you are anxious to do well.

"But I wanted to enjoy my performance and let everything go. Dance is for everyone and I wanted to do it well so that everyone could enjoy it."


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