The emergence of performing arts as a vital discipline of education has opened doors for numerous employment opportunities. Accordingly, many individuals intend to hone their craft in this field and pursue successful careers. They plan on attaining education from the best performing arts institutions which provide excellent curricular, co-curricular, and career development facilities to the students.
One such renowned institution offering dedicated educational and infrastructural facilities is KL Dance Works (KLDW). It was officially established in November 2014 by a group of Malaysian dance enthusiasts. However, its history can be traced back to 1998, when the institute was known as Danceworks Production. Back then, the company staged shows by local dancers, donating all its proceeds to charitable organizations.
The academy (KLDW Ballet Academy) was founded by Choong Wan Chin, the current Artistic Director with the intention to upgrade students’ skill by introducing ballet training from Japan’s EBSEE course* and the syllabus of Elena Chebotar, ‘The Methodology of Classical Dance’ (2014). Ms. Chebotar had obtained her master degree from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St Petersburg, Russia. In 2017, Choong Wan Chin and Rino Fujihashi completed the teacher’s training course conducted by Elena Chebotar.
Focus on Promoting Performing Arts
KLDW carries dual missions: to bring ballet to a higher level for Malaysians’ appreciation of the art form as well as to fulfil our duty to society through performance and education.
The academy emphasizes on providing dance education especially in ballet. An important part of the academy’s aim is to expand students’ dance horizon beyond an exam-based mindset, encouraging them to experience ballet as a performance art while regularly creating opportunities for them to participate in productions alongside professional ballet artistes.
KLDW stages productions of international standard. The programs comprised of well known full-length classical repertoires, ballet galas as well as original full-length choreographies made possible by collaborating with guest artistes invited from prominent ballet companies worldwide.
To date, KLDW has staged a total of no less than 13 productions. Most of these took place at Istana Budaya, Malaysia’s national theater, and raised more than RM600,000 for 32 local charity groups. Recent years have also seen the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and foreign Embassies such as Japan, Australia, the People’s Republic of China, Austria, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to name a few, come on board via cultural exchange, taking the art to a whole new level in Malaysia. KLDW envisages such cultural exchange will benefit local dancers/ students as well as the nation/people culturally and socially.
KLDW has achieved excellence in offering educational and infrastructural facilities under the guidance of Choong Wan Chin, the Artistic Director/ Choreographer/ Producer. A graduate of the Shanghai Dance School, she has danced with the Singapore Dance Theater and Shanghai Ballet Company. Upon receiving her Master Degree of Fine Arts in Dance and Integrated Media at California Institute of the Arts, USA, she joined EBS, Japan as Resident Choreographer and Principal teacher. She also co-founded Ena Ballet School Extended Education (EBSEE)* and EBS Company.
Ms. Choong is supported by the dedicated services of Rosemarie Starke, the Honorary Advisor; Sunny Chan Hean Kee, the Director (Liaison and public relations); and Rino Fujihashi, the Principal teacher and artistic coordinator.
Ms. Starke gives guidance in curriculum, methodology, performance program, and students’ career path. She was a graduate of the Berlin State Ballet School and former Principal Dancer, Ballet Mistress, Repetiteur and Choreographic Assistant of the Komische Oper Berlin (now Berlin State Ballet), Germany. Her professional ballet career spanned 43 years and has provided her with extensive experience in many facets of ballet.
Mr. Chan is an icon in ballet in Malaysia through his continuous efforts in organizing classical ballet productions, annual solo classical ballet competitions and classical ballet workshops in Malaysia.
Ms. Fujihashi graduated from the EBSEE course in Japan and furthered her training at the Berlin State Ballet School, Germany. She has danced with EBS Company and has been invited as guest artiste within Japan as well as Malaysia.
Excellent Educational Facilities
The academy emphasizes on providing dedicated educational facilities for training students who aspire to pursue dance professionally.
KLDW Ballet Academy conducts classes on ballet training which covers classical ballet technique, pointe work and repertoire as well as contemporary dance and floor barre (body conditioning). Students’ progress is monitored by 3 showcases a year, 2 out of the 3 take place at theatre.
In addition to ballet training and attending rehearsals, students are also taught stage make-up, costume management, backstage etiquette and injury prevention. The academy’s co-curricular activities include workshops by foreign guest teachers and artistes in ballet, contemporary and body conditioning and also provide training for local and international ballet competitions.
KLDW provides students with adequate high quality infrastructural facilities. Its studios are constructed to cater to the special needs of international dancers, such as sprung floor and ballet linoleum, as well as close to stage-size studio space with ample ceiling height.
KLDW is renowned for numerous productions of international standard. It has collaborated with numerous international artistes and local dancers. Some of its remarkable productions are listed below:
Productions at Istana Budaya Kuala Lumpur by KLDW (International artistes and local dancers)
2010 ‘Carmen’ full-length original ballet & ‘Paquita Grand Pas Classic’
2011 ‘Don Quixote’ full-length ballet; ‘International Ballet Gala 2011’
2012 ‘The White Bat’ full-length original ballet; ‘International Ballet Gala 2012’
2013 ‘Coppelia’ full-length ballet
2014 ‘International Ballet Gala 2014’
2015 ‘La Bayadere’ full-length ballet
2018 ‘Giselle’ full-length ballet
2019 ‘International Ballet Gala 2019’
Production in collaboration with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra at Dewan FIlharmonik Petronas Kuala Lumpur by KLDW (International artistes and local dancers)
2015 ‘Carmen in Dance’
Productions at Damansara Performing Arts Centre, Selangor by KLDW Ballet Academy (Academy students and guest artistes)
2016 ‘KLDW Classical Showcase 2016’
‘In-House Showcase 2016’
2017 ‘KLDW Classical Showcase 2017’
‘In-House Showcase 2017’
2018 ‘KLDW Classical Showcase 2018’
‘In-House Showcase 2018’
2019 ‘KLDW Classical Showcase 2019’
‘In-House Showcase 2019’
Career Opportunities and Exposures
KLDW constantly endeavors to build a bright career path for the students. It aims at preparing the students in such a manner that they can face any challenge in the future with confidence. KLDW states, ‘using EBSEE in Japan as an example, we have seen many students continue their training at the Berlin State Ballet School or Houston Ballet…, who, upon graduation, went on to pursue their careers worldwide as professional dancers, pilates practitioners and teachers. The academy sees the future of Malaysian students and dancers along similar lines.
* EBSEE course, Japan (2004-2012) prepares talented Japanese students for further education and dance career in Europe and USA through cooperation with the Berlin State Ballet School (Staatliche Ballettschule Berlin), Germany and partnership with Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, USA.