By CHRISTINE CHEAH
OKAY, so the winners of the 2014 Gatsby Dance Competition (GDC) Malaysia were the exact same dancers as last year. But does that mean our local street dance scene is slowing down? Not a chance.
Fellest Yan, a Malaysian street dance pioneer and GDC judge since 2008, said the community has definitely grown in leaps and bounds since he first got in the game over a decade ago.
“I was really surprised by the contestants this year,” said Yan right after the competition, which was held on Jan 11 at the Sunway Pyramid ice skating rink in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
“The quality of dancing this year is by far the best I’ve seen, and this shows how much our local dancers have improved.”
He added that having dance competitions like GDC and Astro Battleground has helped. Earlier on in his career, Yan never had the same opportunities to gain exposure and improve his skills, but he’s glad to see doors opening up everywhere for young dancers in Malaysia today.
Last year’s GDC champion Teh Pitt Den, 25, for example, got an all-expenses-paid “dance experience” trip to Japan, where he also competed in the GDC Asia finals. The experience obviously did him a world of good, because he defended his title with a performance that had Yan raving.
Comparing his routine at the Asian finals with the one he delivered last week in Malaysia, Yan said: “Last year, he packed his performance with stunts, and with the jet lag and different weather, it was hard for him to sustain his energy to the end. But seeing his performance today, he knows what to do now. That could have easily won the Asian finals.”
Teh’s routine this year incorporated a storyline, performed to Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man, in stark contrast to the stunt-filled routine he did the previous year.
Teh said: “I just wanted to express myself better, and try not to think too much about winning. I was just thinking about giving it my best during the routine.”
Despite Yan’s positivity about the local scene, it must be noted that even the competition’s first and second runners-up were the same as the previous year.
Comedy dance duo Funk P came in second with a funny martial arts-based routine, while all-girl trio Vanity Crew from Sarawak finished third with a sexy, energetic performance.
Only Teh will have the opportunity as the champion to represent Malaysia at the GDC Asia finals, where he will be up against other champions from Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
But as much as GDC comes off as a street dance or b-boy competition, it is actually open to all genres, giving dancers of all backgrounds a chance to shine.
For next year’s competitors, Yan’s advice would be for dancers to focus on improving their choreography.
“We’ve seen so many good dancers around, but what we are looking for these days is choreography that’s solid and creative. There should be a story and concept.
“Having said that, dancers have to avoid over-acting on the story, because at the end of the day, this is still a dance competition,” he said.