Tuesday, January 1, 2013

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2012 (Yes we still use this blog!)

Our 2012 was a year of strengthening our foundations, and also broadening our horizons! We did a lot of traveling to improve our technique and gain increased exposure, and also brought international instructors to the studio for our students.

January: The year got off to a great start, with Serina and Albert returning from London after a short training session there. Serina brought back some awesome Flamenco and Modern Jazz, and was raring to go! Meanwhile, Albert trained Jiu-Jitsu at Roger Gracie Academy with Oliver Geddes, one of Roger’s Black Belts and someone who has inspired him for years (and jumped at the first chance to pick his brain!).

February: From one end of the world to the other! We were next in Australia, where Serina boosted her Lyrical Jazz and Belly Dance skills, and Albert competed in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Pro Trial in Sydney. It was the second time Serina took an extended break to train in Australia, and when she got home her brain was literally about to burst from all the cool stuff she learned!

March: It was now time for the BJJ team to take centre stage, as Ivan led the troops into battle at Kuala Lumpur’s first-ever competition. Ivan, Ho, Marcel and Jeremiah all competed, with Ivan bringing home a silver medal in his weight division! It was the first time Ho and Marcel competed, and we’re proud of every member of the team – whether they competed or contributed by helping the competitors prepare. Every victory belongs to us all!

April: Serina had just over a month to process all the information she got in Australia, because we were not done traveling yet…April saw us on our greatest adventure yet, to the greatest city on the planet: New York! Serina was there for 5 weeks to train (and perform!) Belly Dance with world-famous Belly Dance Superstar, Kaeshi, and also take part in the New York edition of Project Dance.  She branched out and tried new genres of dance for the first time, such as Contemporary Jazz. Albert was only there for 2 weeks but he used that time to fulfill one of his dreams, and trained Jiu-Jitsu with his BJJ hero at Marcelo Garcia Academy! 

May: Albert competed again this month, this time at the Pan Asian BJJ International in Manila. He won a bronze medal in the gi competition and a silver medal in the nogi competition, but he didn’t go alone – Jeffri also competed, bringing home two silver medals! It’s a tremendous accomplishment for Jeffri, and goes to show the power of discipline and hard work. We were also joined by two of our friends from Q23 Academy (ATT Thailand), and the combined medal haul from four American Top Team competitors: 1 gold, 3 silver, 6 bronze.

June: In June, we had a big spike in new members, as Studio 23 partnered with Groupon to offer deals with huge savings for both our dance and fitness programs. The response was so great that we had to open new classes especially for this promotion! Studio 23 also went to the ONE FC MMA event in Kuala Lumpur to support Albert's Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Professor Adam “Shogun” Shahir Kayoom, as he fought the highly rated Gregor Gracie, a member of the legendary fighting family, the Gracies! Professor Adam shocked everyone (except us, of course!) by defeating Gracie after an epic fight! We finished the month off with a celebration at the studio, as we had a combined graduation party for Belly Dance levels 1 and 2!

July: After all that excitement, we had a quiet July…well, quiet except for the totally rocking Zumba workshops put on by our friend from KL and officially certified Zumba Instructor, Jue! She just happened to be in town but of course we roped her into doing some special classes for our students – every foot was sore and every back was drenched, but everyone had a blast!

August: We welcomed acclaimed international performers, Tatyana and Adolfo, back to Sarawak as they visited Studio 23 for some out-of-this-world workshops in both Belly Dance and Flamenco! We capped off the special classes with Noche de Flamenco (Flamenco Night): a party and performance at the Sarawak Club, which left everyone wanting more! We also had our second combined graduation party, as our Modern Jazz Level 1 classes got together for a special night of fun and dancing! August was also very special to us for another important reason, which is that Tony from the BJJ team was getting married, and asked us if he could have a special pre-wedding photoshoot at the academy…OF COURSE we said YES!

September: The month of September was dominated by our studio Hafla (dance party), which is the annual get-together for all our dance students, to let their hair down, get glammed up, and perform! This year’s theme was “The Next Generation”, and it was inspired by all the up-and-coming dancers in the studio.  We are very proud of our new generation of dancers - most who danced onstage that night have never performed onstage before! They worked hard, overcame personal fears and challenges, and did a terrific job owning that stage. They have all blossomed and gained self-confidence in such a short time, and we can't wait to see what they have in store for us in 2013!

Our hafla took on a special meaning as this year we had a baby boom, with 3 Belly Dancers, 1 Modern Jazz dancer and 1 Flamenco dancer who were all pregnant and dancing onstage – so it was literally about the next generation! The highlights of the evening were a pregnant mummies’ Belly Dance!

October: We began our October with a unique experience: we helped our clients choreograph a music video! It was a really super awesome experience, as we not only got to meet really terrific people and go all around Kuching during filming, we also flew to Miri for part of it! Albert entered a BJJ competition for the final time in 2012; on this occasion it was the Bangkok Open. As always it was a tremendous learning opportunity, as well as a chance to see good friends and make new ones! Albert made the decision this year to compete in a higher weight division, and after a really tough series of matches, he was left holding a silver medal. He lost his final match to an opponent who was world-class, superior in every way. It was a profoundly humbling and inspiring experience, and an awesome way to get hungry for the next opportunity to compete!

November: We had not one, but two guest dance instructors in November! First, we were again visited by Jue, so if you’re asking whether we got her to do more Zumba workshops, the answer is a resounding yes! Second, we were joined by Hiroko, who opened a special 10-week ballet course for our Modern Jazz Level 2 students, to strengthen their technique in preparation for a 2013 which we have big, big plans for! Finally, we were involved with a dance performance for the Sarawak Breast Cancer Support Group. It was a show which was especially meaningful to us, and we appreciate the opportunity to support such a worthy cause.

December: December has been a packed month! We were booked almost completely solid with performances for various events and functions. The highlight of these was the MyFM Birthday Bash at BCCK, in which we choreographed not just a dance, but a fight scene! We were given a really interesting concept to play with, as well as music in genres which we had previously never worked with, so it was a chance to step out of our comfort zones and push our boundaries!

It’s been a very busy year with a lot of groundwork and preparation work done, and we’re taking a moment to have a breather before we start classes for 2013 – when we’re going to hit the ground running with some good, old-fashioned hard training in preparation for our next big production:

Dance Me A Story 2!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Ladies, it's time to shimmy off those CNY cookies - we're starting our newest Belly Dance class this February!

Classes will be every Thursday from 7:15 - 8:15 p.m. and no experience is necessary. This is a class for absolute beginners so if you've been thinking about trying out Belly Dance, it's a perfect time!

The first class is this coming Thursday, February 2nd. To register and book your spot, call Eileen at 012 805 3005, or email us at studio23kuching@gmail.com

Thanks and see you there!

Saturday, December 31, 2011


Another year is just about done, and we’re amazed at how full it was! After our inaugural year, we had some great leaps in 2010 - but 2011 was by far the biggest year yet for Studio 23, and to finish it up we’re having a look back at the past 12 months.


We had a nice and easy start to year 3. Our Crazy Monkey Defense and Flamenco programs were featured in newspaper articles, but mostly we spent January laying the groundwork for the following months.

By the time February rolled around, Albert and Serina were already in Sydney, Australia, taking some training courses.
Albert’s February was a slice of BJJ heaven: at the start of the month he trained with Nicolas Gregoriades (Roger Gracie’s first Black Belt) in Sydney, and at the end of the month he got to train with the man himself, Roger Gracie when he put on a seminar at Evolve MMA in Singapore!

Albert with Professor Nicolas Gregoriades in Sydney, Australia. 

Albert with Professor Roger Gracie at Evolve MMA, Singapore.

March was a taste of things to come, as things were slowly but surely piling on. We began Season 2 of our Core Strength Bootcamp with 15 participants, and we were really excited to see how this was going to go! Studio 23 was featured twice more, in the Borneo Post and (thanks to Tabitha) in Just Dance magazine, in an article about Kuching dance culture. Finally, we played host to a special guest as BJJ Brown Belt Christian Graugart stopped by as part of his world tour!

We introduced Belly Dance Tribal Fusion for the first time, and opened our first new BJJ class on Friday evenings.  The end of April featured our Martial Arts Open Week, where anyone could walk in and join any of our Jiu-Jitsu or Crazy Monkey classes for free.

April’s Martial Arts Open Week led straight into our May martial arts promo, in which we offered big discounts to anyone joining the BJJ or CMD programs in May. The promotion received a lot of great feedback and results, and we’ll probably be bringing it back soon! May was also a month of milestones for Studio 23:
1. Albert was promoted to Purple Belt in BJJ during training with Professor Adam Kayoom in Thailand.
2. Ivan was promoted to Blue Belt, officially ending the saga of South East Asia’s most notorious sandbagger.
3. The fourth World Belly Dance Day was held in Kuala Lumpur, and Serina performed a new choreography. That’s not new, but this was the first time that a group of students travelled with her for a performance and workshops!
4. More CMD classes were added to the schedule. These classes were focused on fundamental techniques that were just as useful to absolute beginners and seasoned veterans.

Serina and Studio 23 dancers at the 2011 World Belly Dance Day performance in KL.

Promoted to Purple Belt: Albert with Professor Adam Kayoom in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Studio 23 / ATT Borneo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team.

In June, the Studio 23 Jiu-Jitsu team flew over to Manila for the 2011 Pan Asian BJJ International and came back with 7 medals! Not only was it a fantastic result for us, it was also the biggest team we have brought to a competition, at a modest 5! 

The BJJ team with Professor Adam at the 2011 Pan Asians, in Manila, Philippines. 5 competitors, 7 medals.

July saw the first audition for Dance Me A Story. For round 1, we had an incredible turnout of more than 100 dancers in Belly Dance, Jazz, Flamenco and Tango! It was also our first round of casting, and for this our production team flew in from KL. From July onwards, they would be flying over at least once a month! 

Our first cast meeting where producer, Serina, and production manager, Christina,
reveal the general storyboard for Dance Me A Story.

Round 2 of auditions for Dance Me A Story kicked off our August, and intensive rehearsals started on the 3rd

The rehearsals were not all just about dance! The Flamenco dancers also had to record their footwork to be used as background music. And just as they thought that it's a wrap, Albert flushes the toilet...

Also, Albert and Reuben flew over to KL for the annual CMD meet-and-greet at CMD Malaysia's headquarters.

Participants at the 2011 CMD Seminar in KL.

For Dance Me A Story, our focus now shifted from dance to drama, and our acting lessons began in earnest! Our production team worked with us, and special thanks go out to our drama coaches: Alison Nicholas and Sarah Lasung. 

Prince Shakil and his guard, Zabran,
 finding it a challenge to take themselves seriously in the beginning.

Our first full-cast rehearsals began in September, and the first round of photoshoots for the event took place as well!

Behind the scenes at the main cast photoshoot for "Stronger". 

In October, the Dance Me A Story performers had their first full-dress rehearsals. It was a great chance for our performers – some of whom having never even been part of a play in school – to get a picture of how everything would look when everyone was all made up. 

Full-dress rehearsals are always an exciting time as everyone gets to see what everyone else is going to wear!

This month also saw the fourth Thailand BJJ Open, and even though most of the BJJ team was unable to attend, Albert made the trip out to compete and came home with a couple of medals and a lot of experience! 

Albert won a silver medal in his No-Gi division at the 2011 Thailand Open.
It's the best result he's earned so far in No-Gi, and next year he'll be planning on doing better!
Finally, San Fransisco-based Sandra came back to KL for some more Belly Dance workshops and Serina took the chance to sneak away from rehearsals to go and learn from one of her favorite Belly Dance instructors! 

Serina at Sandra's workshop in KL. The workshop participants lining up for a good shot of Sandra's demo.


It goes without saying that in November our focus was completely on Dance Me A Story. With over 100 performers in both dancing and non-dancing roles, and an audience of about 1400 people, it was a massive effort and by far our most ambitious project. Pre-production work took 2 years, and if you were wondering why we haven’t made a blog post about it, it’s because we’re still doing the post-production work! From post-mortems to editing footage, we’ve still got our hands full with the show two months after it finished. We’ll have some more about it up soon, not to worry! 

The event hall for Dance Me A Story. It looks even bigger when it's filled up.

Dance Me A Story, Full Cast. Fortunately the stage held our weight and the show could proceed.

Warming up before the show. Pirates and princesses, zombies and street gangs united.

Last-minute full-dress rehearsal. Even zombies get nervous too!

The end of November saw Serina travel to KL for another Belly Dance workshop put on by Hungarian performer Mercedes Nieto, where she learnt even more ways to shimmy!

Shimmy, shimmy, shimmy!

The last month of 2011 began with our annual Belly Dance Hafla. Like our 2010 Hafla, this year’s party featured not only Belly Dance, but also Jazz and Flamenco performances as dancers from all our programs got together for a ladies’ only dance-off! It was the most informal event we've organized, and it was really fun being able to just relax, let our hair down and dance.

The Belly Dance and Modern Jazz Level 1 students blew everyone away with their confidence and poise!  And a trio of Belly Dance Level 2 dancers caught Serina completely off-guard when they had a surprise dance for her.  Instead of taking a break after Dance Me A Story, they met up and trained in secret!  Thank you so much :)

A full routine learnt in less than 3 weeks; not easy to pull off at all!

The Studio 23 dance troupe was also in action a couple of times, first at the Unimas Christmas show, “Christmas Is Coming To You”, and again during the Christmas Eve show at the Spring. 
At the 2011 Unimas Christmas charity production, "Christmas Is Coming To You".
It is now the last day of 2011.  As we post this, we are in London, England, where we arrived for a “holiday” of sorts 2 weeks ago. No later than 18 hours after we landed in the country, we were both training – Serina at Pineapple Dance Studios, and Albert at Roger Gracie Academy!

A jet-lagged but nonetheless gung ho Serina attended her first Commercial Jazz class at Pineapple Dance Studios– only to realize halfway through that she was in a Zumba class :p ...fortunately the Pineapple store was on hand to help out with some retail therapy after!

Just reading that over, we can’t believe that 2011 was such a packed year for us. As we reflect back on this year and get ready for the next one, we are profoundly grateful for everything that has happened to and for us over these 12 months. We had so many great experiences and learned an incredible amount that will surely help us in 2012 – year 4 for Studio 23!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Ladies! Come and join us at our STUDIO 23 BELLY DANCE HIGH TEA HAFLA!

Date: 4th December 2011 (Sunday)
Time: 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Venue: Harbour View Hotel
Theme: Divalicious!

Bring your sisters, girlfriends, mothers and most importantly, your inner diva along for a time of 
girl power! 

Belly Dancers from levels 1-3 will be performing, our Jazz dancers will be showcasing a couple of broadway jazz numbers, and our Flamenco dancers will be there to join in the fun too. 

Adventurous guests will get to have a taste of all the different genres along with our dancers!

Tickets are on sale NOW, and places for this hafla are limited! RM35 each, available at the studio.

Don't forget your killer heels and feather boas, and see you there!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


It's been another two tiring days, and we are almost there! Here is a bunch of photos from Wednesday's run to BCCK.

The floor view from the back of the room.

The gallery will be located behind the floor seats, but the top-down view more than makes up for the distance.

A view of the lights that are being set up as you read this.

We know what SOME of you are thinking, and no, you don't get to swing around on the chains.

The BCCK crew is hard at work doing up barriers to hide all the magic being done backstage.

There will also be big screens set up for those of you who prefer a close-up shot of the action on stage!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We didn't think we could get any busier with our upcoming show, 'Dance Me A Story'. Well, we were obviously wrong. Yesterday alone was a tremendously packed affair. We were at red.fm for an interview with Rosalind Tan, for a really fun chat in a freezing studio!

Rosalind, Serina and Albert at red.fm studios

Following that, we had to head back to Studio 23 for our official press conference! We put on a mini-showcase and answered some questions for the reporters. Thank you very much to all the papers who were there, we really appreciate it!

Article from Borneo Post

Article from Sin Chiew Jit Poh

Article from United Daily News

Article from New Sarawak Tribune

Article from See Hua Daily

Our performers, maintaining the long Studio 23 tradition of dancing well and posing well!

And if that wasn't enough, we also had to rush to BCCK for a meeting with our events coordinator, AND a rehearsal! We are working really hard to put forth the best experience that we can, and we are really excited to share it with everyone on Sunday!

The BCCK crew is working hard to set up, and Serina is also working hard to check the height of the stage!

Remember, tickets are still available! You can get them from the studio, or at our booth in MPH The Spring! Our booth is open from 12 noon - 2 pm and again from 6 pm - 8 pm.

For more information, you can email us at studio23kuching@gmail.com or call Eileen at 012 805 3005.

Thanks everyone, and see you Sunday!

Friday, October 21, 2011


No updates in a while, as we have been super busy with preparations for 'Dance Me A Story' - look for a whole bunch of cool stuff coming soon! In the meantime, here is a special promotion for the event!

If you haven't picked up YOUR tickets for 'Dance Me A Story' yet, now's the perfect time! From Saturday 22nd October to Sunday 30th October, when you buy 10 tickets you will get 1 ticket FREE!

What's more, the tickets don't all have to be the same price (e.g. if you buy 2 RM100 tickets, 2 RM80 tickets, 3 RM50 tickets and 3 RM30 tickets, you will still qualify - we will just take the average price and give you a ticket from that range)!

So, if you're waiting for your friends to get back to you, tell them to hurry before this promotion ends!
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