The Herrang Scholarship (Singapore) Winner – Interview with Brian Ang

Introduction

Brian Ang started lindy hop in July 2001, just before entering university. During the 4 years at university he balanced his dancing and his studies, deciding to become a dancer just before he graduated. As his interest in Lindy Hop deepened, Brian found himself exploring the various areas of authentic jazz dance, vintage tap dance and jazz music, eventually becoming familiar with the history of the dance and it’s personalities.

Brian specializes in connection, rhythm and movement that is as simple, natural and efficient, taking thse principles and applying them to jazz dance. In these 10 years, he has performed on many occasions in both formal and informal settings and has been teaching dance full time since 2006.

He currently teaches Lindy Hop at NTU, and Jitterbugs Swingapore.

 

JUYL : How did you get started in the dance ?

I first tried Lindy Hop in mid-2001 when I was in NTU (Nanyang
Technological University) for my undergraduate studies.

A friend asked me to join Lindy Hop lessons with him. He wanted to meet
girls and get to know people. I had no idea what the dance looked like and
went into it with no expectations at all. I had never tried dancing in my life
(other than the occasional line dance) and, though I enjoyed line dancing,
was told I danced badly!

I don’t really remember my first learning experiences of the Lindy Hop,
but by the end of two years, I knew I liked the dance. It wasn’t that I was a
good dancer. I could tell how the dance was engaging me because when I
was dancing, time passed quickly…a sure sign of having fun.

Round about the third-year mark, I had a defining experience in solo jazz.
Manu Smith and Janice Wilson from the USA stopped over in Singapore
for weekend workshops. Janice gave a class on musicality which I
attended. She was positively scary, not only making the class express
ourselves through body movement and improvisation but making us do
that to music we were hearing for the first time. We were made to use
different parts of our body and different rhythms in expression to the music.

It turned out to be a very good class and I took home the essence of
discovering several layers in a song and choosing the layer I wanted to
express myself to. Each song provides an enormous canvas. From this
point on, I began to take authentic jazz seriously in my own time.

And at about the same time, it was suggested to me that tap dancing might
improve my sense of rhythm. I took up tap lessons first with Jitterbugs and
eventually did self-learning through videos. I listened to lots of jazz music,
and spent a lot of time learning about the placement of sound to music.
This stage of my learning solidified my sense of rhythm for both tap and
Lindy. I grew a lot more confident in my rhythms.

It is not the case that I have a favourite from out of tap, solo jazz and
Lindy Hop. Rather, they satisfy different senses and make my experience
complete. But the spirit of joy, freedom and playfulness is the same behind
all three dances, which draws me to them.

JUYL : What was your most memorable or happy Lindy moment ?

There have been many such moments at various stages of my
development as a dancer.

For one, getting to meet and become friends with Matthias Lundmark
and Hanna Zetterman, both of whom have been inspirational and very
encouraging.

For another, reaching a place of improvisation of the dance on a personal
level, that is, expressing my personality through the dance. It isn’t
just being able to improvise per se, but connecting the dance with my
personality. Teachers will teach you what they know, but certain steps
and styling are just not “you”. It requires personal introspection…self-
reflection…to discover your own response to styles, steps and rhythms,
why you like some and not others and to make them a part of you. When
you reach personal expression that is celebratory of your uniqueness, it is
simply great.

JUYL : Who had the greatest influence on your Lindy development ?

No one person. Instead, the spirit of Lindy Hop has constantly inspired me.
I am always seeking to apply it in our modern lifestyle and culture. Lindy
Hop is so playful, fun, joyful and carefree. I try to convey these elements in
my dancing and also in other aspects of my life.

JUYL : To whom would you like to dedicate the award, and why ?

To all the people who have been touched by Lindy Hop.

JUYL : What are your views on the present Lindy scene in Singapore ?

We could do with a lot more diversity. Give everyone a place to pursue
their own vision of Lindy Hop. I believe there is enough room for everyone
to be happy and to choose the style of dancing and music that best suits
their character and personal aspiration.

And I even suspect that the dance can be a vehicle for inner connection

and reaching a place of deep satisfaction within yourself.

JUYL : What message do you wish to send out to our readers ?

People say genius is an inherent talent but I would like to redefine it as a
place of finding how to fit ourselves with the dance.

And on a practical level, it does take time. Don’t get discouraged if you
don’t see the results immediately. We cannot force or overwork our way
into things. Neither can we shortcut progress and expect to “get there”
without working. Yet when inspiration comes, it flows.

JUYL : Very inspirational Brian ! Thank you .

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5 thoughts on “The Herrang Scholarship (Singapore) Winner – Interview with Brian Ang

  1. Pingback: Jazz Up Your Life Singapore!

  2. Pingback: The Herrang Scholarship 2012 (Singapore) Winner – Interview with Kalai « Jazz Up Your Life Singapore !

  3. Pingback: THE HERRANG SCHOLARSHIPS – 2013 « Jazz Up Your Life Singapore !

  4. Pingback: THE HERRANG SCHOLARSHIP 2014 | Jazz Up Your Life Singapore !

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