HARD WORK: Suhaili Micheline has got the arts world dancing to her many styles
BEING a dancer is one tough profession to survive in. Suhaili Micheline of 8TV’s So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) can attest to this.
A trained dancer and performer, Suhaili graduated from Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, with a degree in dance. She was also named “Most Outstanding Dancer of VCA 2005”.
When she returned to Malaysia in 2007, she took part in SYTYCD and was one of the top four . In the show, she was called the Black Mamba because whomever she danced with would get booted out the following week.
She lost the title narrowly to Alam, but it made her realise something else.
“It didn’t hit me till after SYTYCD in 2007 that I wasn’t dancing as much as I had been trained to do. SYTYCD had provided a good platform for dancers, but I still needed to expose myself in terms of performing for people.
“When SYTYCD came out, I didn’t know how to play that image, where you have to sell yourself. I just wanted to promote dance and show that quality in dance is equally important, whether you dance in an artistic industry or dance for the commercial industry.” She was exposed to both worlds, which was a good thing for her. It opened up new doors for her. Soon she found herself teaching kids.
“My degree was to dance and perform but when I came back, it was about teaching this kid Though I love kids, I thought I was going to die. I had not taken up a degree course in dance only to come back and teach.”
Funnily enough, although she was tough on the kids, they loved her
“The more I pushed them, the more they clung to me. They would cry going home and then the following week, they sent me a letter of love. The autistic children kept me grounded.
“Teaching them can make you cry. They just love you for you. They are so honest. Now I teach kids at Aswara.”
She was part of a team that recently staged The Wizard of Oz, where she played a witch who sang.
“This was the first time ever where a ballerina had to sing, act and dance. That was tiring. I thought it was easy, but it wasn’t. Once I started moving it, it was really hard. I was gasping for air. It was nerve-wracking. An honour and a challenge.”
While in Australia, she observed that most ballerinas were thin.
“The pressure is so great to look thin that they have to lose weight. When they see other students who seem to be slimmer or thinner than them they get worried.
“Then they start to eat steamed vegetables, steamed broccoli at night, drinking Diet Coke and chewing gum. That is why I moved to contemporary dance. I can still look like a ballerina but I can do a lot more variety.”
Suhaili, who was known as Sue on SYTYCD, was invited by the producers of the show the following year where she became a choreographer.
In 2009, she was named “Most Promising Artist Of The Year” at the 7th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards.
In 2010, she went to Los Angeles to take part in Hollywood’s World Championships Of Performing Arts where she won two “Grand Championships Of The World” awards in dance, defeating thousands of others.
She performed in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Korea.
Back home, she took part in musical theatres such as Cabaret and Secret Life Of Nora The Musical.
In Indonesia, she was a guest artiste at the 4th Marketplace of Creative Arts in Bandung this year. In Singapore, after sold-out performances for Impak Maksima, she was invited back to the country to be a judge at the Singapore Youth Festival.
So does this mean that she can do any dance?
“I can’t say I can do bha-ratanatyam. I’m more towards contemporary, jazz, ballet and modern dance. To be invited to judge for Singapore Youth Festival was an honour. Opportunities like this expand my career.
“Now I’m looking at Adelaide for another dance festival soon.”
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