Kalaivani Gobal, or more fondly known as Vani, is a passionate, experienced, versatile, fast and avid dancer. She started dancing Lindy hop in 2004.
Working with Sinclair at Jazz Inc and Brian Ang at NTU Kinetics, she is an instrumental figure in teaching and spreading the Lindy Hop Dance in Singapore.
She frequently performs at public performances, private events and swing camps. She has traveled far and wide for workshops and camps across Asia and is now aiming to attend international and major dance events.
JUYL : How did you get started in the dance ?
In mid-2004, I was looking for a dance-related CCA in my first semester in NTU. I had no idea then that a dance called Lindy Hop existed and was vaguely wondering if I’d end up joining something like Hip Hop club. I came across a booth at the CCA fair that was empty save for some flyers and a laptop that was playing some clips. The screen of the laptop was dim and there was no audio so I was lost as to what was being shown. I grabbed a flyer from the booth, which had those iconic images of Lindy hopping stick figures on them and it had the words Lindy Hop and Dance on it. Dance? Okay, so this was a dance club.
To this day, I have no idea why I went down for the first taster session of that NTU Kinetics Lindy Hop club without even first trying to findout what Lindy Hop was. That was the fateful day that I first saw a Lindy Hop performance and fell in love with the dance, though I seemingly had nothing in common with it. Looking back, I shudder to think that if the word ‘Dance’ had not been on that flyer, I might never have found Swing dancing!
JUYL : What was your most memorable or happy Lindy moment ?
No one particular moment.
My happy Lindy moments are the unexpected moments when a SHIOK move transpires on the floor with that current dancing partner due to beautiful connection or great synchronicity or creativity or wild abandon or 100th time success or a miraculous fluke etc. When that happens sometimes I catch the lead enjoying the same happy moment as I did, and that’s just so priceless. I think that is Lindy Hop’s hold on me; I will keep trying to re-create that SHIOK feeling.
JUYL : Who had the greatest influence on your Lindy development ?
Sinclair Ang and Brian Ang , for sure. They have taught me for the past 8 years.
Another person whom I’ve to mention is Putra Manggala aka Angga, a young lead from Montreal who danced regularly in Singapore for a few months in 2009. Firstly, he brought a different style of dancing to Singapore and I was very intrigued in trying to follow his lead. It led me tothink about not just following with a fixed notion of frame but being adaptable to following leads who lead differently. Secondly, he introduced me to the idea of being a “Copycat Ninja”, i.e. being able to watch Lindy videos and learn new moves, styling and concepts and practising those stuff on my own or with a partner to improve. Before that, I used to watch Lindy Hop videos for enjoyment but never thought that it was possible to teach myself through them. So I’d say he too has a great influence on my Lindy development.
Vani performing with Sinclair and Brian at Da:ns Festival 2010
JUYL : To whom would you like to dedicate this award, and why?
I would like to dedicate it to the Spirit ofLindy Hop. It has kept me coming back to the dance through all my personal ups and downs. It has taught me confidence, allowed me to travel overseas alone without fear of finding friends and showed me the beauty of connecting with people without holding perception barriers. Lindy Hop has developed me so much as a person that it thoroughly deserves this award.
Vani performing at Da:ns Festival 2009 : What’s your move 2010 ?
JUYL : What are your views on the present Lindy scene in Singapore ?
I feel that population-wise the scene is still small; we have few regular dancers but we have good dancers. So each lindy hopper in the scene now is so important because even if one person stays away, the rest of the dancers will feel the impact. Having said that, I’m thrilled by the number of flash mobs happening currently.
Hurray! Last but not least, it’s great to see JUYL spearheading initiatives to spark some fire to attract morepeople to check out Lindy Hop.
Vani performing with Sinclair and Brian at Da:ins Festival 2010
JUYL : What is your vision for Lindy Hop in Singapore ?
I’d like to see a flourishing scene in Singapore not just for Lindy Hop but for the whole umbrella of Swing-related dances – Lindy Hop, Balboa, Blues, Solo Jazz and Charleston. I especially want the youth in Singapore to know what Lindy Hop is (just like everyone knows what salsa is) so that I never get asked again by young people, “Is Lindy Hop an Indian dance?”
JUYL : What message do you wish to send out to all readers ?
If you’re a local dancer, I’d like to say dream big for our scene. Don’t give up hope, and don’t expect others to make it happen without you. If someone you know feels low about their personal dancing or the scene, be the spark for them and remind them of the joy of the dance.Leave your hand out to be a connecting link to someone who wants to re-join after some time. Seek out for what you want from the dance and the community.Take ownership. If it’s not already available, ask for it to be provided. If you can, provide it. If there’s something new coming up that you think will be a boost to the scene, try to contribute or support it. Ask for support. Make merry. Finally, happy dancing everyone!
To Herrang scholarship sponsors, thank you so much for sending me to Herrang this year!
JUYL : Thank you Vani.
Read about Herrang Scholarship 2011 winners here.
What is Herrang Scholarship ?