{Interview #8} Ebelle Chong – Dance Practitioner / Choreographer

Ebelle Chong, 39, is a Dance Practitioner and Educator. She was part of a wave of contemporary dance artists who shook up the local dance scene in the early 2000’s. Her latest work SSLD:7 premiered in R.e.P 2015 to great critical acclaim. Ebelle’s choreography for CHIJ Katong Primary School bagged the Certificate of Distinction at the Singapore Youth Festival 2014. Her husband is in Corporate Communications and they have 3 boys aged 8, 4 and 2.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

Bachelor of Business Administration, NUS
Diploma in Contemporary Dance, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts

Photo credit: Jingkai (SSLD:7 premiered in R.e.P 2015, Raw Moves)

Describe your job
As a Dance Practitioner, I often collaborate with independent artists from different genres, or work with a Company to create a new piece of work. Most often for theatre pieces, I collaborate with a Music / Sound Composer, Lighting Designer and the Performers. Rehearsals are always work-in-progress where we try new material and see what works or doesn’t.

As an Educator, I go to schools to teach contemporary dance techniques and choreograph the Dance CCA. I also teach a program called Program for Active Learning (PAL) for Primary 1 students using dance to aid in learning of creation and cooperation.

Tell us about your career path
After obtaining my BBA, I went to LASALLE-SIA to pursue dance. Upon graduating in 2001, I joined TOUCH entertainment and was part of the Magic of Love production team. I was the production manager, choreographer and dancer all rolled into one. Then in 2003-04, I was the General Manager, Production Manager and Dancer for a local dance company Ah Hock and Peng Yu (AHPY).

In 2005, some friends and I, all independent artists from different genres formed Collective MAYHEM. In 2008, my work “w a l l s” was commissioned by the Singapore Festival of the Arts and I performed a solo title “Mama:Machine”. I took a hiatus of 7 years to take care of my kids and this year, I premiered my new work SSLD:7 at R.e.P 2015 by Raw Moves. Most recently, I have finished co-creating Open Homes-SIFA in September 2015.

How did you find your passion?
Interestingly, it was when I helped out backstage at a LASALLE-SIA Dance Graduation show. I saw what the dancers / choreographers did and was moved by what they had to say through their dance. That’s when I decided, “Hey, if they can do this, so can I!”

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
Creation šŸ™‚

How do you find time to balance work and family?
It’s tough but I try to be away only 3 times a week. With that in mind, I plan my projects so that when one finishes, there is enough leeway to prepare for the next. I am very aware that I am also a mum and a wife, not just a dance practitioner / educator.

What does success mean to you?
When I have inspired or at least facilitated a thought process either through my teachers or creations.

Are you involved in any voluntary work?
Currently I am volunteering in World Dance Alliance Singapore as the Conference Secretary in organising Asia Pacific Dance Bridge: Connectivity Through Dance, which was held in Singapore on 16-18 October 2015.

One advice to parents
Let your child try it out for themselves because only they will know if this is what they really want.

One advice to teens
It is demanding being a dancer / choreographer, and you need to be strong mentally, emotionally and physically and just carry on. If possible, further your studies in dance as the lifespan of a dancer is quite short. There are many other areas in the industry where you can move on to, such as Arts Management, Dance Reviewer / Researcher / Academia etc.

To be a good dancer or choreographer, it takes someone with passion to press on, an open mind to learn more, and sensitivity to all that is around you to gain inspiration.

    {Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

    #1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

    #2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium
    #3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra
    #4 – Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness
    #5 – Professor Tan Huay Cheem Cardiologist Director of National University Heart Centre
    #6 – Ruth Wan Children’s Book Author Timmy and Tammy series
    #7 – Andrea Decruz Media Personality Owner of CINQ Salon & Belmont Flora
    ~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~