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SYF REFLECTION from Benedict Lim, 3N2 (Dance)

This year marks the first and last Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) for my fellow Secondary 3 dance mates and me. When we started preparing for it, I was really very excited! When our instructor, Laoshi, started to teach us the dance moves one by one, stretching us to do the best we could, I was telling myself that I would strive for the best and not give up till we met the final aim: DISTINCTION! We had to do many split exercises, jumps and repeats of certain moves till we could perfect them. Our seniors and Laoshi had to scold us many times when we were reluctant. But they also motivated us when we were tired and felt like giving up.

While preparing for the SYF during our normal practices, I experienced different emotions - I was worried, sad and tired all in the same day. Worried as I am not a skilled dancer, sad as the seniors would step down really soon after the SYF and tired as we had 3 practices in a week. However, I was surprised at myself – all these feelings actually made me even more motivated to do better and I wanted to make sure that the SYF would be the best performance ZHSS DANCE would ever present. 

On 21 March 2017, we had our SYF showcase to the school. Unfortunately, during the performance, my prop, 红绸, got tangled around me and I was really disappointed in myself. After the performance, I cried. A lot. Why didn't I do better? Questions came to my mind and I had no answer to them. At that time, I really felt like giving up. Again. Then our teacher, Mdm Ng, said, "Take this performance as an experience and reflect on how you can do better for the actual SYF." After that, I had the answers to all my questions - it was to work harder. 

After the showcase, we had just 3 weeks to our actual SYF performance. We worked even harder. But, we had another problem to solve - our costumes. It was already 3 weeks before SYF, but we did not have our costumes to practise with. We were really worried but we had to focus on our performance. 

Three days before our actual SYF, our seniors, Enqi and Jess, came back. We were really happy and wanted to put up the best performance for them. Sad to say, on that day we were reprimanded by our seniors. I could still remember them saying, "Do you treat our SYF practices as normal practices? Or do you treat them as a time to play?" Those very words made EVERYONE, including me, panic; it also made us guilty and sad. We didn't know what to say and how to reply. We just kept quiet. We did not deny it. My friend, Della, and I cried after the seniors talked to us. We were really disappointed in ourselves as, by that time, many of our dancers were also injured.

Soon, THE BIG DAY came... I was so excited I woke up super early at 5.30am and made sure that I would not be late. We started the day doing our make-up, changing into our costumes and practised multiple times to make sure that we were all prepared before boarding the bus. 

During our final practice, I was still making mistakes and my 红绸 still caught my arm several times. I left the school with an uneasy feeling, worrying about my 红绸tangling again. But, my dance mates never failed to make me feel better and more relaxed. When we were on the bus, they joked and made everyone laugh. Alighting at Kallang Theatre for our SYF performance, we were so excited! 

Soon, it was our turn to perform. While we were performing, we just went on and did our best. We were so proud of ourselves that we were smiling all around after our performance. I cried after the performance as my 红绸 got tangled again. But, I was also crying tears of joy because I had finally completed my SYF journey after so many practice sessions, so much effort and stress. I could genuinely say that I was very proud of ZHSS DANCE for putting up a great performance in front of the Judges. No matter the result, we had done our best. 

Finally, the day of the results. When I checked the website, I saw that we had attained a Certificate of Accomplishment. I can't deny that I was sad with the result. Nevertheless, we can't have a ‘retest’ or anything like that. I had to accept the fact we did not attain the Distinction.

Through my SYF Journey, I have learned so much about what ‘A Dancer’s Morals’ means and about learning to be accepting. I realised that being a dancer is not just about dancing. It's also about showing what we want to express through the dance and also about learning how to work for the best no matter our skills, facial expressions, body language or the way we act. In our daily life, we might not be able to smile and laugh as much as we do while on stage. But, what we can do is to learn how to be able to smile and be happy when we are not dancing so that we will be able to put up a performance with the best expression ever. When we dance on stage, there are things that we want to tell the audience through our 5-minute performance. There is a different story for each dance that we show. Our SYF performance was meant to show, as teenagers, we have the strength and resilience to always look forward and forge ahead. We exhibit these qualities on stage by expressing them through our dance to tell the audience that we have the capacity and strength to live our lives with passion. I'm sure that through this SYF journey, my dance mates and I have learned so much more about being dancers. 

Every Performance is both Short and Long… 

the stage time could be a mere five minutes but

the tale that we want to tell and the feelings that we are trying to convey to the audience – that, in itself, is a whole new story 

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