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!
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