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16 Mar 2004

spin with su sam

Fridae meets up with Kon Su Sam, an openly gay engineer turned dancer and finds out more about his performance at Mox from Mar 18-20.

March Spin, which is choreographed by engineer turned dancer Kon Su Sam, will be performed at MOX Bar & Caf from Mar 18-20. Presented by the Ecnad Project, the annual showcase of the dance company's in-house groomed talents will also feature Su Sam. He had joined the group as a full-time dancer in late 2000 after leaving his job as a software engineer in a Singapore Technologies subsidiary company doing defence projects. The 33-year-old is also proud to have "supportive parents" and partner whom he is in a 12-year monogamous gay relationship with.

Engineer turned dancer Kon Su Sam who is currently Resident Artist of the Ecnad Project.
æ: Tell us a little bit about your current performance at Mox? What can the audience expect?

su sam: March Spin, the name of the performance at Mox, is an annual showcase of our in-house groomed talents. They comprise of dancers who have been through at least a year of training in our 'Fresh from the Oven' (FFTO) training programme. Our FFTO programme grooms people who want to dance and also create dance. It is also a chance for resident artistes, like me, to create something.

This year's March Spin is a site-specific performance. As it is set in a bar/cafe, we decided to create a dance about the types of people who frequent these places. We created characters like a multi-timing ladies' man/cassanova, a vengeful ex-girlfriend and a woman neglected by her lover so that she goes out seeking attention from other men. The story runs like Alice in Wonderland meets Copacabana. The audience can expect to see different colourful characters presenting themselves through dance as well as drama, accompanied by a glamourous diva songstress and an accomplished pianist.

æ: How and when did you discover your passion for dancing?

su sam: I did not begin dancing because of some burning passion for the art form. In fact, I believe I was somewhat inspired during the time when I started listening to pop music in my secondary school days. With subsequent exposure to MTV pop culture, I discovered the joy of a catchy rhythm and how it could move me. I knew nuts about dancing then but imagined how liberating it must feel to be able to do it properly. When I was in junior college, a good friend of mine persuaded me to join the college dance group as an Extra-Curricular Activity together with him. So it was with a sense of adventure and also, on hindsight, edged by the need to express myself differently from the typical sports loving college boy, that I began my journey into the world of dance.
æ: You had been an engineer before becoming a full time dancer. Have you ever had any formal training in dance or any other arts? What inspired you to make that move?

Engineer turned dancer Kon Su Sam who is currently Resident Artist of the Ecnad Project.
su sam: I have had no formal dance or arts training to boast of. The only training I received included weekend dance classes during junior college, some training during my time performing in the National University of Singapore (NUS) Dance Ensemble, adult ballet classes at night in a reputable girls' school, which was granted free to some of the guys from the NUS Dance Ensemble who helped out in the school's annual recital, and other lessons when I joined Ecnad. I was lucky never to have to pay for any of the dance classes I received, which also meant I never really took them seriously enough during that time...

Studying to be an engineer was a practical choice rather than my ideal choice. Upon graduating as an engineer, I decided to pay my dues. I worked as an engineer and performed part-time with Dance Dimension Project (DDP, as Ecnad Project was known then). My heart was never in my day job. When I quit my job at the time due to unsatisfactory work conditions, I had actually already found another engineering job. But I realised then that I could not subject myself to a few more years, or possibly the rest of life, of regret of not being true to myself. DDP had become a company by then and when they invited, I accepted.

æ: How did you become involved with the ECNAD Project?

su sam: After watching their performance in 1996 called "Ecnad, dance form the E point," I signed up for their audition for dancers in their next performance in the following year. I got the part and from then on, performed in virtually all of their productions. I stuck with them because I admired their passion and belief in their art, as well as their unique vision and style of creating dance. Besides that, they were an incredibly humble and fun group of people to work with.
æ: Which other dancer(s) has had the greatest influence on you?

su sam: My earliest influence were actually the dancers that I have danced with or whom I'm still dancing with now. The dancers who started DDP are graduates from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and I had already worked with some of them when they were still in NAFA and I was in NUS. I remember watching their graduation show and was taken in by the professionalism and skill they displayed. I wished I could dance like them if not be in their shoes. Because of this, I always have great respect for these people who have dared to dream and the guts and determination to made them come through.

æ: What are your favourite dance DVDs?

su sam: My all-time favourite would be Flashdance and Fame. I am especially inspired by the final scene in Flashdance where Jennifer Beals wows the judges in her dance audition, and the scene from fame where the students dance a riot in front of their school with the help of one of the student's taxi-driver dad.

March Spin
Date: 18-20 March
Time: 8:15pm, approx 80 mins
Venue: MOX Bar & Caf, 21 Tanjong Pagar Road
Ticketing: $26 Group special - Buy 4, get 1 free!; $21 Friends of Ecnad, Students, NSF, Seniors. Free seating, standing and dancing. Entry only for ages 18 and above with ID.
Ticketing enquiries: 6226 6404
Ticketing outlets: Substation, Mox and Ecnad Project (Cash please)
Featuring Fresh From the Oven's Connie Cheng, Lyn Choy, Gek Li San, Lin Qi Feng, Xiao Ying, Koo Yuan Hui, Loh Yuk Sun. Together with Cynthia Sim, Ong Wei Ming and AnneMarie Lim
Choreography by Resident Artist Kon Su Sam, Artistic Co-director Lim Chin Huat, Associate Artist Rusman Rahmat
Music by Kerz Soh


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