Dancing is a niche profession but is growing part of the creative industry in Brunei. There have been more talent shows in the country and we have seen a lot of dance groups performing in spectacles around the Sultanate. There are even solo performances by local dance enthusiast and we met with one of them, Shannon Osman Binti Mohd Ali, who talked about her experience dancing in Brunei. She was also a finalist for the recent Spotlight Talent show.
She first started to be interested in dancing when she first watched her older brother dancing about ten years ago in 2009.
“I began to notice what was fun or interesting about dancing and I eventually decided to join, train and perform with the dance society in my high school.” said Shannon about her beginnings in dancing.
Eventually, she improved to the point of performing shows in Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and also being featured in a few videos from local productions. Recently like Ikhlas, she was a finalist in the spotlight show. She is usually a part of the Relentless Entertainment who she was part of for the last five years. Recently she was part of the Cinderella show with them that happen at Jerudong International School (JIS) Art centre.
“I’ve been performing for almost a decade but still get very nervous backstage however when I got on stage and the music starts rolling – the nervousness is gone and it is all pure focus and energy from then on” mentioned Shannon.
She mainly dances in the hip-hop genre and is quite strong in pop-lock and waving but she likes to focus on the concept of freestyling where it is just her and the music without any choreography.
“Not many of us do freestyling – it is just pure feel of the music and moving to how you feel to it at that moment and trying to embody the music. It is really fun and probably one of the styles I’ve been doing the longest for all the years that I’ve been dancing!” highlighted Shannon on the freestyle.
Dancing in Brunei is not without its challenges. There are some blackout periods in the country where it is not permitted to have any kind of performances. These results in some performances being crammed in 2 months. It could be up to months without any performance, but suddenly when there is, it’s usually 3 to 5 rehearsals in one go.
“I think some people does not know what it takes to create and prepare a dance piece – clients would hire us in 1 or 2 weeks noticed – with other dancers different commitments, it is hard to schedule enough rehearsals and get a clean piece – show it in advance and get the clients exact request in time” said Shannon on the challenges.
Even with these challenges, Shannon thinks dancing is amazing on how it allows a person to make music visible through movements. The body is in tune with the lyrics and the beat or the meaning behind a song, and there’s so many different ways that you can express the same section of music. With that much creativity, it is really an interesting profession to pursue.
“I think youth that are interested in dancing should start attending classes, keep on practicing and learning dance moves. Not only that, try auditioning for local productions as they are more opportunities each year to join – you have to start from somewhere, so take the first step and get more comfortable in dancing” concluded Shannon as an advice towards youth who wants to take up dancing as a profession.