Some weeks ago, there was an article in The Star about Ellie Lai and her husband Zhou Gui Xin. Ellie Zhou Ballet Studio will be holding a show to raise awareness of their EZPA.
The article was very generous with its praises for Ellie Lai. Ellie, a Malaysian who did well in the international ballet scene, had returned home with hubby Zhou, to set up a ballet school. Ellie went to the 'Harvard of Ballet', the paper said. Ellie will bring light into our lives with her dances. The paper didn't say that, but I caught the slant in their words. Before this, all was bad. FAB is bad. Aurora is bad. Jean Gan is bad. Now, Ellie Lai is back...and we are going to celebrate the rise of the glorious culture of professional ballet right here, in Petaling Jaya.
I was keen to see her dance. I was also looking forward to see some great folk Chinese dances choreographed by Zhou.
Li-ann, my 8 years old daughter who is taking up ballet and modern dance was practically begging us to go for performance. So we went on Sunday 23rd Jan, to the Securities Commision, Sri Hartamas. The event was held in the auditorium.
It was a crowd of perhaps 300, 98% middle-class Chinese. A few expats. No Malays. No Indians.
I bought 3 tickets for RM105 and bought the Program Booklet for RM5.00.
Puan Sri Ena Ling is their patron. I also saw a whole list of Datins, Datin Sris, etc, on the acknowledgement page. I figured. Now it made sense.
Then the show started.
The first item, I forgot the name, was OK.
And I was thinking, 'Alright...this is going to get better and better! I am going to just sit back and enjoy myself. Hit me! I am ready for a night of exquisite dances.'
But then the show turned from a dance performance into a tragi-comedy.
All the folk dances (about 8, I think) were performed by old folks except the first one. That's right, I think it should've been called 'An evening of Chinese Folk Dances performed by Zesty Old Folks'.
To be fair to them, the old ladies all danced with much gusto. The choreography, from what I can see, was very good.
But watching old ladies dancing wasn't what I was expecting. I would be very happy for my mom if she picked up those steps from an instructor in a badminton court of some schools on weekends. And I was very happy for those old folks on stage. They really enjoyed their workout.
But this was to be the center of excellence for Performing Arts. This event was supposed to show how they will 'raise the bar' for the Malaysian dance scene.
Professional dancers were supposed to be up on stage.
We felt misled.
I felt misled.
You see, it's a little odd but the crowd that night was most appreciative. There were loud thunderous claps and cheers after each dance item. Our folksy ladies were given the honor of being sent off the stage with ear-splitting wolf-whistles.
Did someone shout 'Encore'!??
8 old ladies (in 45-65 range) in tight fitting red samfoos, shaking their heads with red ribbons and hopping around to chirpy Chinese folk music, to '...welcome the return of Spring'.
Music speeds up. They swayed their heads and hopped faster.
Music chirped to a crescendo. They raced around with fearsome speed. Smiles flashing.
They froze, all in cutsie poses. Head sideways, wide smiles, perfect dentures showing. Heart-felt excitement were written on all their faces. Visible heaving shimmered their silk sam-foos.
Loud wolf whistles from the crowd.
Loud cheering and wolf-whistling from backstage. (!!?)
Did I walk into unreality?
Was this a set up?
Those thoughts played in my head all through the show.
Raising the bar? Professional Dancers? Center of Excellence for Performing Arts?
Between the words and the dances, somethings didn't quite add up. Ellie didn't dance. Zhou came on for less than 2 minutes. He looked overweight...
'Papa, why so many old 'poh-poh' dancing one?'
'Li-ann, good question, go ask Ellie Zhou...'