The Singapore Street Women Fighters

Charleen Leonita speaks with young and promising dancers about street dance, its overwhelming popularity and what it takes to succeed.

Meet the new generation of street dancers, Syiqin, 19 (left) and Patrina, 20 (right). Photo by Charleen Leonita.

 

 

BY
Charleen Leonita
Places Section Editor
Hype Issue #54

Published on
December 29, 2021
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Patrina Lee, 20, a full-time preschool teacher, discovered her love for dancing at the tender age of seven when her primary school teacher signed her up for a hip-hop dance class, since she was the only student without a co-curricular activity.

You could say it was fate because from then on, she could not live a day without dancing.

In 2018, Patrina met student Syiqin Teo, 19, and the two quickly bonded over their shared interest in street dancing, marking the start of their dance-fuelled friendship accompanied by daily practice sessions.

“Every time we train together, I’m always learning something new and different. I gain a new perspective of what Patrina shares with me as well,” says Syiqin.

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Dancing the nights away at Marina Square is essential for Patrina and Syiqin. Photo courtesy of Syiqin Teo.

Like peas in a pod, the duo spend their nights training and learning different dance styles as they strive towards their common goal: becoming professional dancers.

Dance choreographies are now commonly used in songs by artists in different genres such as mainstream pop and R&B artists. With this surge, dance styles like street dance have taken over the world by storm to become an essential part of mainstream pop culture.

The popularity of street dance has evolved so greatly that the top hits we listen to now have their own set of official choreography, as moving along to a song definitely makes these hits more exciting and offers fans an opportunity to connect with their favourite artists.

What’s not to love about a TikTok dance by your favourite singer?

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Street Woman Fighter, a female dance crew survival program, has been one of the Internet’s trending topics as viewers admire the professionalism of the dancers. Photo taken from Mnet Asia.

Despite dance being an essential part of pop culture, dancers are not always given credit where it’s due. With Korean survival shows such as Street Woman Fighter, viewers are able to delve deeper into the dance world to see the artistry and message of dance that has been shown through the skills and professionalism of the dancers, while admiring their perseverance.

As more dancers get recognised worldwide, Singapore also has its very own up-and-coming street dancers, Patrina and Syiqin.

“I realised I loved to dance when my mother was against me going to rehearsals due to my low grades,” Patrina says with a chuckle. “This might sound deep but dancing gives me a purpose to live and continue persevering. I get to express myself through movement instead of words.”

This might sound deep but dancing gives me a purpose to live and continue persevering. I get to express myself through movement instead of words.

- Patrina Lee, 20

Preschool teacher

For the two girls, dancing has become a part of their identity and bopping at car parks after five hour-long training sessions was all they knew. As the art form got more serious for them, the girls joined their first crew, the Junior Groovers.

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Patrina and Syiqin with their dance crew, the Junior Groovers, after a long night of training for their upcoming performances. Photo courtesy of Patrina Lee.

“The journey with the crew was not the smoothest nor the easiest, but I definitely think that it was worthwhile and memorable,” Syiqin reminisces.

Enduring tough classes, busy schedules and late night trainings were all part of their struggles and there were times when they experienced burnouts, as their self-doubt and self-hatred grew.

“After stepping into the working world, I realised that I have a lot less time and energy to dance,” says Patrina. “I would drag myself to dance classes and self-trainings, making me dread my passion. This mindset was extremely unhealthy.”

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Hurdles will always be there for Patrina and Syiqin when it comes to dance, but these growing pains will only make them a better dancer and person. Photo by Charleen Leonita.

Getting demoralised and losing the excitement they once had for dance will only continue to be a part and parcel of growth as dancers for Patrina and Syiqin, but overcoming these hurdles has only made them stronger.

“No matter how hard I am on myself, I have to believe that I’m always a work in progress, and I’m not meant to strive for perfection,” says Syiqin.

No matter how hard I am on myself, I have to believe that I’m always a work in progress, and I’m not meant to strive for perfection.

- Syiqin Teo, 19

Student

Learning to deal with hardships haven’t been the only takeaways for the girls. With every dance session or training, they learn more about teamwork, discipline and responsibility which have become the core values that they uphold today.

When asked about their fondest memory from their dance journey, they both reminisced about the opportunity to share their choreography to a class.

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Patrina and Syiqin took on their first ever dance class together, sharing the choreography that they spent nights on. Video by Charleen Leonita.

“I really love the choreography that we came up with together and enjoyed the sharing process.” Patrina says with a smile. “Watching the class move to our choreography made me rather teary and reminded me why I loved to dance.”

Watching the class move to our choreography made me rather teary and reminded me why I loved to dance.

- Patrina Lee, 20

Preschool teacher

Syiqin added that having a friend like Patrina with the same passion as her gives her the motivation to work harder. “We’re able to share, learn and train hard together. It is one of the things I cherish deeply in our friendship,” she says.

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Their friendship continues to bloom along with their dance journey as the two continue to train and work hard towards their passion together. Photo by Charleen Leonita.

The future possibilities for Patrina and Syiqin are endless, but with the passion and dedication that they have shown, we’ll certainly be seeing them grow and become a prominent part of Singapore’s dance scene.

Whether you are already a dancer yourself or looking to step into the industry, Patrina advises: “Take things one day at a time, embrace and cherish every moment for its value and don’t forget to have fun!

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