Dance instructors teach in Singapore, Malaysia

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Kansas University dance instructors Muriel Cohan and Patrick Suzeau spent part of their summer in Singapore and Malaysia, where they taught students and learned about Asian dance techniques.

"In Singapore, we were teaching repertoire and technique at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts," Cohan said. "It's a major school that teaches music, art, dance and modern dance, in addition to Chinese ballet. Singapore is 75 percent Chinese, and has a large Indian and a large Malaysian population.

"I saw for the first time Chinese classical dance. It was a synthesis of classical ballet, modern dance and folk dance."

Suzeau and Cohan have toured internationally and taught workshops and master classes in Australia, Canada, Indonesia and several other countries. Suzeau said he was impressed with the dancers in their Singapore classes.

"They are (concerned with) expressive potential rather than pure entertainment. They are trying to find their personal voice," he said. "It was our first time in Singapore, and we've been invited to return next summer for four weeks."

After their stint in Singapore, Cohan and Suzeau traveled to Malaysia, where they taught at the Academi Seni Kebangsaan in Kuala Lumpur, a state-supported school for students and professionals in the areas of ballet, modern dance and ethnic dance. They also led classes at the Centrestage Dance Academy in Klang.

Not all of Cohan and Suzeau's time in Singapore and Malaysia was spent on work. They also spent time sightseeing. On the way to Singapore, they stopped overnight in Malaka, Malaysia. The town, whose inhabitants are a mix of Dutch, English, Chinese and Malaysian, was celebrating the birth of Buddha with a 70-float parade and other activities.