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!

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