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

Introduction

Sinclair Ang is the founder of JAZZ INC (www.jazzinc.wordpress.com), a collective of dancers who promote traditional jazz dancing from vernacular Jazz, to Charleston, to Lindy Hop through classes and performances.

Sinclair is a leading figure in the Lindy Hop and Swing Dance community in Singapore and Asia. In addition to having taught both
adult and children’s classes regularly since 2001, he has also worked
with special groups, including youths at risk, and the hearing impaired.
He is known internationally, having taught at several workshops and
camps across Europe, Australia, and Asia, including helping fledgling
Asian scenes grow through starter workshops and return visits to help
the dancers and teachers develop.

JUYL :  How did you get started in the dance ?

It started with the music. I listened to Ella, Duke, Basie, and knew somehow that
it was meant for dancing. This was long ago, in my teens. When I was doing my
masters, I saw Sing and Andrew dance to Greg Chako’s band in 1998 and then I
knew I found the dance. I started taking classes and my friends could not believe
it as I was never a dancer. I did theatre and music, but have once mentioned – I
just don’t get dance.

But look at me now. That’s why I believe that everyone can dance.

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

When I went to Camp Catalina in 1999, after having only danced for five months.
That was when I first met Frankie, and got to talk to him about all the great jazz
artists back then, and I was like wow, he knew all these people. Then I realized,
wait a minute, he didn’t just know all these jazz giants, he was a jazz giant
himself. The camp also opened my eyes to the larger world of Lindy hop, and
gave me goals to aspire to by watching all those great dancers and performers. It
gave me understanding and perspective of what swing dancing was.

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

Frankie will forever be my inspiration. It wasn’t just that he was an amazing
dancer, which he was, but he embodied everything that Lindy represents – the
joy, the acceptance of everybody, and believing that dancing will bring everyone
together in peace. I would take his beginners’ class just to watch him introduce
the dance to the next generation of dancers. He was an amazing teacher that
got to the heart and spirit of the dance. In his final years, he would be shuffling
along when he danced, but he would have more groove doing the simple moves
in every fibre of his body than the most impressive dancer. I hope I will always
teach and dance in his spirit.

I have to add that Bill Borgida was a huge inspiration to the technical aspect of
my dance. When I took a private with him some seven or eight years ago just to
work on my swing out, he approached his dance technique in such a systematic
and comprehensive way that it opened my eyes to my own technique and
development. It was definitely a milestone in my development as a dancer and
teacher.

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

To my late parents who always supported me in anything I did. If not for their
constant encouragement of my artistic endeavors growing up, I would not have
had the courage to do what I do now.

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

I think that it is great that dancers are now taking initiatives in organizing dance
related events and strengthening the ties of the community without any teacher
or school driving them, and that there are secret benefactors who would give
to the scene through this scholarship. Thanks again for recognizing my work of
wanting to spread the joy of this partner dance.

JUYL : What is your vision for Lindy Hop in Singapore ?

That the scene will be self-sustaining with a steady growth in the number of
dancers as the years go by. I hope that more youths would take to this dance
form as well, for that would ensure the next generation of dancers.

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

First and foremost, thank you for supporting the classes, social venues and
events that JAZZ INC has been organizing, and thank you for this opportunity to
go to Herrang. It is my hope that more people will take ownership of the scene,
as that is the only way for the community to grow. I hope that more dancers will
realize that they would need to give and contribute to the scene in one way or
another – something as simple as buying drinks at social venues that support the
dance – and not take anything that exists now for granted.

JUYL : Thank you Sinclair .

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