Addicted to dance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2007, 12:00am

Dancing may be enjoyable to watch, but Desiree Ho Ai-yeng says it's even more thrilling to be part of the performance. She will be auditioning for some of the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation's (HKYAF)performing arts projects that will take place at the end of the year. The organisation is now recruiting dancers aged between 12 and 25.

Eighteen-year-old Desiree took on several smaller roles before landing the part of Toyah in Disco Inferno, HKYAF's flagship musical of 2005 and 2006.

As with all budding dancers, she had to make sure she was in shape for the part.

Experts agree that gymnastics is the ideal preparation for learning dance techniques and Desiree is proof.

When she enrolled in Year Seven at the Chinese International School in 2001, the school's gymnastic club had just been established.

By the end of Year Nine, Desiree realised that her work in the gym was helping her dancing and she decided to take it more seriously.

'Dancing has always captivated me. I soon realised that I wanted to try it for myself,' says the student, now in Year 12.

She says her efforts are worth it because dancing gives her great satisfaction. She describes it as exercise as well as mental training.

Jessica Vas is just as enthusiastic as Desiree about dance. The 17-year-old decided to take lessons at the age of four when she saw how sweet the daughter of her mother's friend looked in a ballerina outfit.

'The hardest part of [dancing] is learning the movements,' says Jessica, who is in Year 12 at West Island School.

'I sometimes lose focus and forget what I'm supposed to do. Balancing dancing and schoolwork isn't easy either.

'But dancing gives me this big rush that makes me feel there is nothing else in the world.'

Although Desiree and Jessica both have experience performing, the young dancers still feel nervous before the beginning of a show.

'I get stage fright when I'm not well prepared or when [I'm] doing the performance for the first time,' says Desiree.

Her way of dealing with the stress is to silently run through the whole routine in her mind, until the utterflies in her stomach go away.

'You must get your lines, your movement and the songs right. Practice is the only way,' said Jessica.

But for dancers looking for their big break, there are some things that will help you impress the judges in an audition. HKYAF choreographer Francis Leung Ka-kuen says they are always looking for 'young and energetic people who are willing to commit themselves to each performance.'

He also says: 'When attending auditions, it is preferable to come dressed in a loose-fitting T-shirt and a pair of track pants. It would also be a help if candidates bring some tight dance outfits, which show their figures.'

Desiree also advises punctuality. 'From my experience, you will jeopardise your chance of getting the role if you're late for the audition, because it reflects badly on your commitment and how much you want it.

'Also, try to be versatile in your style, because you never know what to expect in auditions.'

The dance styles required for the HKYAF performances will include contemporary, musical theatre, hip hop and street jazz. Auditions are scheduled for May 19, while the deadline for applications is May 4.

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