Friday, December 31, 2010


SO. What have we learnt this year?  

Mainly: the importance of REST!  Based on our experiences in 2009, we decided to close the studio on public holidays.  We also merged some classes, and closed the Sunday classes mid-2010.  In 2009, we found out the hard way that:

(i)            We may score high on enthusiasm, but we’re really not as resilient as we thought (boo!) and we were falling sick a lot.
(ii)           During public holidays, most people can’t make it to classes, as they have plans with their families and friends…so we’ve decided to spend time with our own families and friends too!

And we’ve found that this arrangement works!  We’re much healthier, less grumpy, and spending less on coffee – yay! 

So before we move into the brand new year of 2011, let’s take a look at what we’ve done over the year 2010: 


Highlights of the month include an outing to the Spring for the launch of My Privilege Book 2010, and a show for SHEDA where we got to see Phua Chu Kang and Phua Chu Beng in action.

We also introduced our new modern jazz choreography ‘Nobody, Nobody’ by the Wonder Girls; it went completely viral!  We didn’t expect the response we received for it; we had to open special classes just to teach that one dance!  

And yes, that was the number one request whenever the dance troupe performed. Here are the various generations of Studio 23 Wonder Girls (not in chronological order, in case you were wondering)!


For our first holiday break of the year, Albert took the chance to go train Jiu-Jitsu in Bangkok with then-UK-based Nicolas Gregoriades, a black belt under the greatest BJJ competitor of all time, Roger Gracie. Professor Nic is definitely world class, and dropped some serious knowledge for us. It was an eye-opening experience, and it was not to be the last time we headed to Thailand this year! Professor Nic is now teaching BJJ in Sydney, Australia so hopefully we’ll be seeing more of him.


We normally just leave the dancing to Serina, but Albert also had to get in on the action! We had a lot of requests to teach a couple dance, and we started a semi-private, 3-Month Waltz class for our friends Alex and Carol, who wanted to dance the Waltz for their wedding. It was the first time we’ve done something like this, and the response was excellent!


This was a whole month of saying farewell to our first fulltime instructor, Emmelina; not because we couldn’t wait for her to go, but because it was so hard to let her go. We had to have a farewell party with her students and another with her classmates.  And, thanks to our newest instructor who joined our team in April, there was also a party with the instructors. 

 Thanks, Lydia, for taking over our classes so the rest of us could go out and play...
And yes, we were thinking of you. We took this photo for you :)

Emm, we STILL miss you and we’re still waiting for you to come back to Kuching!


This was a month of huge firsts and still-really-good seconds! Serina traveled to Penang for the 2nd World Belly Dance Festival, where she took workshops with international star, Aziza – and that’s not all! Serina also performed a solo at the Festival Concert. It was her first time performing in front of Belly Dance professionals and it was really scary…fortunately everything went smoothly! But she re-learnt a valuable lesson: breathing is also important when dancing… as she is fond of telling her students. “Breathe, breathe! Don’t hold your breath!” (sounds familiar?)

Last year Albert queued up with a hundred other people to get his head shaved for charity. This year, to benefit the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society, he joined the Go Bald team as a writer and was in the first batch to get shaved on stage. It was a really great experience to go behind the scenes and see how it was done. This year there were more than 300 people to be shaved, which included whole families, and more women!

Hunchbacked monkeys at the Spring


We started June by heading to Korea! Albert was there to take part in a Jiu-Jitsu competition. He came back with a gold medal – and a swollen toe.

It was also Serina’s first time being interviewed on television! She was on RTM’s Kuppa Kopi show to talk about dance in Sarawak (and was also very shy about it, conveniently forgetting to tell anybody when it would be airing). We got to have a look around the RTM studio, and Serina got to have the full TV makeup treatment!

Finally, we started our first Adult Ballet Class! It was a special 3-month course, taught by Elaine Lee. We learnt many important skills – how to stretch, have proper poise, and cling to walls!


*deep breath between the crazy busy months of June and August*


Our 60s-themed Belly Dance Hafla! Serina thought she worked really hard getting every one trained for the Hafla.  Unbeknownst to her, the Level 3 belly dance class was working even harder behind her back.  On top of the rigorous training Serina had in store for them, they were also meeting up secretly for a special surprise for her.  And congratulations, ladies, you were completely successful!  When they performed their drum solo they entitled ‘To Serina with Love’, she was blown away.  That was the nicest thing any one has ever done for her, and the best (and biggest!) surprise she’s ever had, so thank you. 

Dancers: you completely made her year,
and she still tears up when she thinks about it 


After the great response we had for the Waltz class, we decided to have another 3-month course, this time for the Argentine Tango! We had such fun doing this, we have plans for more Argentine Tango classes next year!

The graduating class
Our designated stuntpeople

We also started extra BJJ sessions this month, to get ready for the competition in Bangkok. Albert, Ivan and Tony would be competing, and the team got together an additional 2 to 3 times a week, at 7.30 a.m. to start the day with some good training! We spent the mornings working hard to lose weight for the competition, and on Thursday evenings we put it all back on! After classes we all headed downstairs to the mamak restaurant to watch Ivan and Hilda on the Amazing Race Asia and indulge in roti canai and mee mamak.


The big Jiu-Jitsu competition in Bangkok, and we got some great rewards for our preparation! Ivan and Tony got gold AND silver in their weight division, and Ivan also took home the gold in the open weight category! Albert spent the weekend feeling like a proud mother hen. It was a great experience and Studio 23 BJJ Team will definitely be back for more competitions in 2011!

On the podium

Also, a big shout out to Casey, who did not compete but still went to support the team, and act as manager/cameraman/toilet paper supplier!

Back home with the rest of the team


It was a month-plus of intensive rehearsals and performances – 8 performances in 7 weeks; training new members of our dance troupe, and producing our 3rd generation of Wonder Girls. We also opened a bunch of special dance classes for the school holidays, and a new Saturday Fizfit class!


Serina and Diana both danced as angels in their church Christmas production when they were much younger, not knowing that 17 years later, they would be back as veteran angels amongst primary and secondary school students!  17 years later, Serina still has OCD-tendencies, but is less bossy (yes, she used to be much worse!), and Diana has sharpened her skills as a super stylist. (They’re both extremely relieved that there was no Facebook or YouTube during their first stint as angels).  This is the last time they are dancing as angels; they are passing on the mantle to the young dancers who did an excellent job, especially as it was the first dance performance for most of them!

It was very fitting that our very last performance for 2010 was on Christmas Day in the church we grew up in.  Everything we have comes from God, and it was a privilege and honour to be able to give a little bit back to Him.  

Happy New Year, every one, and God bless you!

Friday, November 19, 2010


School holidays are here again! If you're feeling bored or want something to do, come check us out! We'll be holding some special holiday dance classes! 

Challenge yourself in an express dance bootcamp, by learning a 
full dance choreography in just 5 weeks!

Beggin’ Tues 10.00am – 11.30am

Smooth Criminal Tues 3:00pm – 4:30pm

Nobody Thurs 10.00am – 11.30am

Beggin’ Thurs 3:00pm – 4:30pm

Don't just stay at home and watch dancers on 
TV or YouTube... come and do it yourself!

Each dance runs for 5 weeks, and costs RM80. Each class is 90 minutes each (7.5 hours in total). There is a RM10 registration fee for first-time students.

Classes go from 23 November to 23 December, 2010.

Pre-registration is required, as we won't be opening the class unless there are enough people signed up.

For more information, please email or call Eileen at +6012 805 3005.

Oh, and please note that our dance classes are for females only.


Sunday, October 17, 2010



Hi all,

Due to the awesome response to our latest Belly Dance beginner class (Thursday 7.15-8.15 p.m.) we've had to declare it full. We can't accept any more new students for this class.

The good news is, we're opening up a NEW Belly Dance beginner class on Fridays at 6.30-7.30 p.m. with the first class to be held this November 5th! Please email, or call Eileen at +6012 805 3005 to book your spot. Also, remember to come early to register!

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hi all,

Now you'll be able to start your weekend with a great Saturday morning workout!

This November 6th, we're opening up a new Fizfit Core Strength class on Saturdays at 10.00 to 11.00 a.m., perfect for early risers, people who aren't free weeknights, or those who just want another excuse to sweat!

We're planning to open more classes, so watch out for more info!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We started getting ready for the Hafla in earnest a week or two before. A lot of the decorations used at the Hafla were designed by our artistic director for the event, Abigail!

Our dancers were more than happy to get into the action (while waiting for rehearsals), doing a great deal of painting, cutting and sticking!

In fact, they were working so hard...

...they started to see stars! *ba dum pssh!*

The unglamorous but necessary part of showbiz...

The night before the Hafla was jam packed with all kinds of activity. It took a lot of work to set up the room!

There was tons of stuff to do to make sure that we were all set for the hafla.

"I don't think we get paid enough for this."
"...You get paid?"
Meanwhile, back at the studio we had more sla- err... willing labour to do up some more decorations!

We had a lot of awesome help with these decorations and they really helped with the atmosphere! This mobile was made by Abigail.

At first it looks like we caused quite a mess...


But then it turns out Lydia's been staying up late watching movies again.

"So I was thinking that the colour composition is interesting because of the contrast in the..."
"I was watching a funny video on YouTube, this guy can make his cats sing!"
"No-boh-dee, no-boh-dee but youuu..."
"Have you guys watched Twilight yet?"
"Um, can I have the staples please?"
Q: How many dancers does it take to staple decorations to a wall?

This scenario was oddly reminiscent of our first Hafla. Maybe it's our newest studio trademark!

Studio 23: great dancers, and expert supervisors!

When hippies let their hair down.
We brought in some special wigs to help get in the proper 60's mood!

"I think it looks good there."
"Yes, ma'am!" *sticks sign to wall*
"No, wait. No, over there."

*starts weeping*
Serina ably lends assistance in her usual expert supervisory capacity.

It was really late when we finally wrapped up and called it a night. We were having trouble staying up...

...and even telling which way was up.



When I first started training, nobody would have guessed that I'd amount to anything as far as BJJ competition. I know I wouldn't have given myself great odds. Nobody would have guessed that out of all the potential and talent in the gym, I'd turn out to be the only one regularly competing. 

I certainly wasn't the biggest, strongest, fastest or most gifted guy, or even halfway flexible. I was just hard to submit and that's about it. 

Having a reasonably tough chin helped me out a little.
Nobody would have imagined that one day I'd be running a studio of my own, let alone bringing students to compete with me, but that's what's happening now.

The FBT Thailand BJJ Open is just over a week away and the butterflies have again returned to settle in my stomach. They're quite comfortable, but every now and then they have a little dance battle or something. 

A lot has changed from even the last competition in June and it's like everything old is new again. It looks like this year will be huge, and there are a whole lot of good guys attending. I'm really excited to see what's going to happen. I'm really excited to see how my guys do. I'm really excited to meet old friends and make new ones.

I think it's going to be a completely awesome time and I'm looking forward to it.


Sunday, September 26, 2010


Hi all,

In preparation for the upcoming Bangkok competition, there will be extra BJJ training during weekday mornings.

Monday 7.30 a.m. - 8.20 a.m. : Gi

Wednesday 7.30 a.m. - 8.20 a.m. : No-Gi

Friday 7.30 a.m. - 8.20 a.m. : Gi

All BJJ and CMD members are welcome to attend.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Hi all, not many updates lately but more are on the way!

Here are some announcements for the meantime:

1. We've got a Fizfit in the Park workout this Sunday, Sept 26th at the usual time and location (5.15 p.m. at Friendship Park). Come join us for a free workout! Dinner to follow, but if it rains then the workout will be called off and we go right to dinner. Remember to wear proper shoes!

2. We've just started a new Belly Dance Beginner class! If you're looking to learn the art of Belly Dance, it's a great time to jump on. Thursdays at 7.15 p.m. For more information, email or call Eileen at 0128053005.

3. BJJ classes on Thursdays will be temporarily condensed to 1 hour (8 - 9pm). This is so we can close early to go watch Ivan and his Mrs on the Amazing Race Asia! All are welcome to join us.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Hi all,

Well, we were hoping for a good response, but we didn't know it would be THIS good! Thanks very much, we really appreciate it, this is awesome! We're officially sold out, and we aren't opening any new tables, as the venue can't support any more.

If you've already paid for your tickets, thank you very much!

If you've booked tickets but have yet to pay, please make sure you pay by this Saturday 21st August, or your ticket will be released to the waiting list.

If you have not managed to book your ticket, but would still like to go, please contact Eileen at +60128053005 to be placed on the waiting list.

Again, just a few important points to note:

1. This is a LADIES-ONLY event. The only men that will be there are the official photographer, videographer, and some of the servers (the male servers will not be there during the performances).
No other men will be allowed to enter the room.

2. No recording of the performances is allowed. You can take photos before and after, but not during.

3. Have fun at the Hafla! Yes this is an actual rule, Serina says so :p

Thanks again for the support everyone, we'll do our best to make sure we can accommodate everyone next year!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


IMPORTANT UPDATE: WE HAVE OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT! However, due to a spike in demand, we are opening up new tables.

So if you are interested in going, please contact us ASAP to book tickets. We will NOT confirm tickets until payment is received. WE WILL NOT BE OPENING UP MORE TABLES AFTER THESE ARE SOLD OUT.

Thanks for the awesome support, we're working hard to make this the rockingest 60's-themed Hafla EVER!

The unofficial mascotperson for the 2010 Studio 23 Hafla.

Come to the Sarawak Club and enjoy a great evening, complete with a full sit-down dinner and all the best of this year’s Belly Dance! Dancers from all our Belly Dance classes will be showcasing what they’ve been learning, so you don’t want to miss it!

We’re really excited to hear that in keeping with our 1960’s theme, some of you are already planning your costumes: from beehives and bobs, to groovy hippies, to all-out flower power! In fact, we’ve decided to hold a special best-dressed contest, so start looking for your old tye-dyed outfits!

But that’s not all! On top of all this, there’s more:

Performances from the Modern Jazz and Flamenco classes – if you haven’t been able to catch them in action, now’s a great time! The Modern Jazz dancers will be performing Nobody, and (first time ever) These Boots Are Made for Walking! From the Flamenco class, you’ll see another first-ever group performance of Habanera, from the opera Carmen!

Special Guest Belly Dancers from KL! Serina’s Belly Dance friends have heard so much about you, they’re coming here specially to celebrate the evening with you – they’re planning a performance, along with some other surprises!

One night only: a special Ballet performance from Swan Lake, by our Guest Ballet Instructor, Elaine!

Have you got YOUR tickets yet? They're selling FAST so get them now! For more information, call Eileen at +60128053005 or email us at

7:00 p.m. 28th August 2010
(Ladies ONLY, please!)

Monday, July 26, 2010


Hi all,

We've got some minor problems with some of our email addresses. If you need to get in touch with us, please make sure to direct all correspondence to:


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Hi all,

A reminder that for dancers interested in learning Belly Dance, we've got a new technique class starting tomorrow! Please do come early to make sure you are registered. It's an excellent opportunity to start learning Belly Dance, so don't miss it!

Wednesdays 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


On the day of the competition, we woke up to some light rain. It rained for the whole of the previous day and contrary to our weather forecast *coughIslacough* we were freezing! Fortunately, it was only lightly drizzling.

By the time we got to the competition venue, it was already starting to fill up with people.

We were all supposed to be lining up to get weighed and registered, but half of the people there didn't have waivers. Not a big problem, it was quickly solved. But then...

Uh oh.

These two upstanding gents were good enough to help with translation.

This time it went more smoothly, and now came the reward for 2 weeks of dieting:

A slice of cheese in my sandwich! HUZZAH!
This sandwich is one of many, many food items we bought from Paris Baguette, one of our FAVOURITE things about Seoul. Yay for Isla, thanks for the recommendation!

Our competition picnic.
Banana: for the potassium.
Sandwich: for the carbs and to sop up the overflow of stomach acid.
Snickers: for a quick energy hit.
Cherries: because we only have the preserved kind in Kuching.
Jerky: A great way to pass the time.
Cookies: Just because they make us happy. What, we keep fit for a living :p

The field upon which battle (and much bowing) would be done.

My weight division. There would be a last-minute entry, however
(which in retrospect I'm pretty thankful for!).

The seedings for the absolute (open weight) division. There was a tiny mix-up with my registration and I was not listed here, but a ball-point pen came to the rescue!

This is totally unrelated to the competition but we were just so intrigued by those blue things. We thought they were cranks of some sort but then realised that it's soap...
when Serina bravely grabbed the "handle".

On the podium!
What's really cool about this photo is that the referee who presented us our medals is Alvaro Mansor, a 5th-degree black belt, an official with the IBJJF, and the head of Soul Fighters academy in Brazil!

Finally, this is me with Marc Lee, a cool guy and a great organiser and host!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


note: This post was written by Serina.

We're back from Korea, where Albert did Studio 23 proud by getting gold in his weight division at the Korean National BJJ Open! Coming soon will be a more detailed post with photos. In the meantime, watch our homecoming champion at Incheon International Airport in all his glory.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Well, we started the first week of adult ballet classes last Friday, where some students reactivated long lost muscles, while the rest discovered new ones. Here's just a taste of the fun to be had imagining you were a 9-year old girl in pink tights.

We took part in intense Matrix-style training.
"There is no longkang, there is no longkang...JUMP!"

If you see any grown adults walking around Kuching like this,
you know where they came from.

The long-lost key to eliminating chicken wing arms, rediscovered at last!

The Monday class saw the introduction of guys to the wonderful world of ballet. But only after we found them loitering at the stairs outside, too shy to come in.

We stretched like there was no tomorrow (or camera-woman)...

We learnt to cross the road just like the Beatles...

...not as stylish as John, but we can't all be.

Finally, what does Spider-Man have in common with Studio 23? know, apart from the fancy costumes?

...give up?

The poses! Here we see our Spider-Women in training.

Group 3 of the Ballet class meets tomorrow for their first class, 7 p.m.

Remember to come early to register, and have a blast, guys!

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