Jovan and Jiamin does Singapore Proud at the British Open 2018: Blackpool Winter Gardens

FRESH from the British Open 2018: Blackpool Winter Gardens 

Jovan Tan and Yang Jiamin does Singapore proud by clinching top 85 and 100 positions in the Standard Ballroom Amateur Rising Star and Amateur Open respectively in the British Open 2018. A first-time for Singapore and Singaporeans.

Refreshed from their well-deserved break at London, we managed to snag a short interview with them over burgers and fries at Shake Shack, Dubai International Airport.

Photo credits to RobRonda.com Photography

  1. Based on our knowledge and information, both of you are currently the only Singaporeans who have made it thus far in the Amateur and Amateur Rising Categories in the British Open – Blackpool 2018 Championship. How do you feel about it?

Jiamin: The results were unexpected, because we didn’t think we would have made it (this far).

Jovan: Honestly, we never expected to make it past the first round actually. Especially amidst the expectations and predictions of seasoned eyes.

Jovan, we understand that it’s your first time here also, what’s it been like for you?

Jovan: It’s been a good experience. I feel good and motivated just by being around better couples. Which is something that is hard to get in Asia and Singapore itself.

For Jiamin, it’s your second time returning to Blackpool to compete, how is it for you this time round?

Jiamin: It wasn’t as unnerving as the previous time. Actually, I hardly felt nervous as I took it as a performance without expectations.

 

  1. We also understand that Jovan is currently in the fourth year of his secondary school education and Jiamin runs her own successful yoga business, how do you both juggle your personal responsibilities and commitments with training leading up to this championship?

Jiamin: As a freelance yoga instructor, it gives me the freedom and bandwidth to schedule my classes according to our dance schedule. We had to work with whatever timing was mutually available. There were also sacrifices and opportunity costs along the way, but it was all worth it. Also, thankfully, Jovan was focused enough during this period. *Laughs*

Jovan: Manage your time wisely and prioritise your activities.

 

  1. Competing on the Blackpool Winter Gardens dance floor has always seemed like an impossible, if not, unreachable dream for Singaporeans, what are your thoughts on this?

Photo credits to John & Josephine Dance Creative

Jiamin: For me, it’s more about the quality of dancing, thus, it is important to ensure that we are well-prepared. It is definitely not an impossible dream, you will just have to sacrifice time and money, give up on certain things to focus on making it possible. When I first started, I never thought I would be dancing on the Winter Gardens dance floor one day, but as time went by, my hunger to improve and dance amongst the other top dancers grew. At the end of it, I would like to one day, dance amongst the best.

Jovan: Financial support is an important factor to consider. Above that, you need to have a firm goal to focus on and work towards.

 

  1. As they saying goes: “Getting to the top is hard, but staying on top or going even higher is harder”. What are your thoughts on this?

Jiamin: I think what I can most relate to, is the lesson we had with Leonid Pletnev, one of our teachers, because dancing is not just about who you are on the dance floor, but also who you are off the dance floor as well. To grow together as a dance couple and to reach greater heights. *Hints at Jovan and laughs*

Jovan: In terms of improvement, you won’t be able to feel them within a short period of time. It comes after awhile. There will be periods of bottleneck, plateau and stagnancy. It’s like the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree, there’s a long period of “stagnancy” and little visible growth, and all of a sudden, it shoots up. So, it’s much about the process and the building of foundations, you have to trust it, persevere.

Jiamin: There will always be someone better than you, what matters is that as long as you feel good in the moment, you’re doing it right for yourself.

 

  1. Most importantly, who would you like to credit and thank for your success thus far?

Jiamin: I would like to thank my parents for being my biggest support and pillar of strength. For supporting me financially and always being there for me.

Jovan: I would like to thank my entire family, my grandparents, and parents and my friends for supporting me. All this wouldn’t have been possible without them.

 

Such sweet and concise thoughts from these budding dancers! We certainly are appreciative of their recount on this recent successes before they scurried off for their flight.

Indeed, there is certainly much more to see from this young duo. For now, it’s time for their well-earned break as they take time off to focus on their academics and yoga. What will they do next and where will they go? Stay tuned to their activities and show them your support through their social media platforms on @jovanntan and @jyan.yoga

Here’s a dedication made by Jovan to his partner and loved ones!

On a side note, we too have had the opportunity to witness the stellar international talents from all over the world, coming together to share and show each other their interpretations of ballroom dancing.

It is no wonder that many ballroom competitors and enthusiasts make their yearly pilgrimage to the holy grail of Ballroom Dancing or what is more familiarly known as “the Mecca of Ballroom Dancing”: Blackpool.

Keep a lookout for our upcoming Blackpool Winter Gardens Survival Kit and trinket give-away!

dancesport.sg does not own any of the above photos unless otherwise stated. All photos belong to their respective original owners. 

Where is Kavin going?

With so much in the air about where one of Singapore’s youngest up-and-coming Amateur Latin ballroom dancer is heading to and the reasons behind this move, we thought, what better way to find out than to ask the young man himself.

We managed to squeeze some time out of Kavin’s busy schedule on a cool Wednesday noon. Decked in his signature black fitness outfit and always ever-candid self, Kavin tucks into his well-deserved lava cake and sips some mocha while we got him to spill the beans.

  1. We never got to ask you about yourself, could you share a little more on when you started Latin ballroom dancing, and how did that pan out for you since Primary, Secondary, Polytechnic and during National Service?

I started dancing since 9, and I didn’t let my friends know, I kept it from them and only my best friend knew. It was not until Primary 6 when I performed for the school and my then schoolmates found out and teased me and all, which was something I didn’t want and was trying to avoid.

Eventually it got better. People in Secondary, Polytechnic and NS, people had a different and positive perspective of ballroom dancing.

Since we’re on this, what would your advice be for the young ones and their parents who want to pursue ballroom dancing?

I would say, tell them the truth, don’t lie, don’t be afraid, just do what you wanna do. Don’t let that 30 seconds of laughter or teasing bring down your lifelong dreams and passion.

 

 

  1. Is professional Latin Ballroom dancing a career choice for you? Have you been busier with your Latin ballroom coaching?

Yes, it is! I’ve been busy with private and group Latin ballroom dancing. The classes are conducted very much based on the individuals’ preferences, from there, we would drive them towards their goals. I used to have a fixed mindset and approach of how and what to teach them. However, there’s a need to adapt and approach them with their preferences in mind, and thereafter, nurture their interest in dancing. So, it’s important to ask them, what do they want to learn? For example, connection, leading and following, and how there are many ways of interpreting it, the movement of the spine and etc.

 

  1. We heard that you are headed overseas to further your craft in ballroom dancing. What prompted this move and why?

In October 2017, there was already an idea to train overseas. After Blackpool, the idea of training in China came when Ernest, a close friend also in dance, spoke to me. We personally felt that the Chinese dancers were much better in terms of skills and technique as compared to the others.

Ernest and I wondered, why not China? Since it’s near Singapore also. At this point of time, established UK dance instructors were also flying into China also, so why not?

So, here’s the funny story. Ernest was just casually speaking to me in Blackpool: “Why not speak to Lu Ning, since most of his students are top students”. And so, it happened, Lu Ning was just sitting right next to us, almost like it was meant to be, and from then we started talking, got to know each other, I shared my plans for dancing and further explored the idea of going to China to further my dancing.

After “Youth Got to Move: The Ballroom Edition”, plans were still not figured out, but after the Singapore Open Dance Championship in 2017, I made a trip to China to have a few lessons under Lu Ning and his wife, Jasmine. They were Blackpool Professional Semi-Finalists and renowned judges who are invited for international competitions.

I thought it might be a good move since there will be more exposure for me, in terms of instructional and professional support. This is also an opportunity to train alongside the Chinese dancers, and to be less comfortable. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, because when I’m in it, I tend to be less motivated and determined.

I want to be even more serious, motivated and to be able get the help that I wanted. So, by putting myself in a highly competitive environment where I was no longer near the pinnacle, I could push and pit myself against the best in China.

 

  1. What’s this trip about? How long will it last? And what do you hope to achieve?

This trip is more to improve myself as a dancer, not to earn money or to teach. The initial plan was a one-year plan. Realistically speaking, financially, I can only survive for a year overseas. But in that time, I’ll have to find classes to teach to sustain myself. If it works out, I may stay for a longer period of time, perhaps even up to five years.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of five years?

At the end of five years, I want to return as a figure who not only strives and thrives in the local scene, but also on the international platform. And to return as an inspiration and icon.

 

  1. What about family? What are their thoughts on this decision?

For my Dad, he started me my on dancing, both of my parents actually, and they are supportive, they can see what I want. I guess it would be the same for my sister. Perhaps they are not exactly sure of my choice, but they definitely respect and support my decisions and goals.

 

  1. What’s going to happen to your current partnership with Lindsey?

We did a performance together last Saturday at Tanglin Park, and that was our last dance together. Lindsey was cool and professional about it, she even offered to help as I chase my dreams.  

 

  1. As this is a pivotal moment in your life, is there something you would like to say to your future self?

For me it was always to compete, I’m a very competitive person.

So, to the future self, if you see this, don’t forget the reason why you started. Do not let greed or ego take over you. Don’t forget that Singapore is still your home, and you’ll still have to come back to contribute back to society and the dance community.

 

  1. There are many risks that we take in our lives. Perhaps this is one of the bigger leap of faith that you are taking at this point in your life, what are your thoughts on those who are skeptical? What do you want to say to those who believe in you and are rooting for you?

I’ve had people tell me, that I would still pick the academics over dancing eventually. Majority of the people are very supportive of my decisions and are with me, and I’ve very thankful that they did not contribute to the stress and fear of living overseas, mentally it helps a lot. So thank you!

To the skeptics, **** ***.

 

  1. Was there a question you wished we would ask? What is it?

“What happens if you don’t get the desired end results?” That’s the question I’ve always asked myself. It doesn’t matter, just like in life, as long as you give your best, that’s what matters. If I ever give up dancing for studying, I would have always wondered what would have happened if I’ve made it if I had chosen dance. And I wouldn’t like to live with that question burdening me through my life.

And with that, we promptly ended the interview as Kavin made a sprint to his next class. Certainly an admirable spirit in this burning youth. We wish him bon voyage and all the best as he scales greater dancesport heights in the name of Singapore!

For those who want to catch up with Kavin, he’s still physically present on sunny island Singapore until 11 June 2018. He’ll be back on the major festive occasions such as Lunar New Year and Deepavali. Thereafter, he’s always available on his social media platform @rathnakavin.

dancesport.sg does not own any of the above photos unless otherwise stated. All photos belong to their respective original owners. 

An interview with our budding Youth DanceSport instructors!

As we turn the pages into 2018, we take a quick look back at our most recent highlight.  About two months ago, we ran the first Youth Got To Move: Ballroom Edition, proudly supported by the National Arts Council Singapore. The Standard and Latin ballroom workshop was a success with much attributed to our poised standard youth instructors, Jovan Tan and Yang JiaMin as well as sizzling duo, Kavin Rathna and Lindsey Lum.

Not too long after, both budding youth couples did Singapore proud by making the finals of the Singapore Open Dance Championships 2017 in their respective Amateur Open Standard and Amateur Closed Asia-Pacific Latin events. An annual international dancesport championship held by John & Josephine Dance Creative. Quite possibly the feat as the event is graced by acclaimed names including Damir Haluzan & Anna Mashchyts (Slovenia), Darren Hammond & Milla Lykke Nielsen (South Africa), Davide Camera & Doriana Guzzo (Italy) and Xie Cong Xian & Luo Yu Ting (Hong Kong, China).

To top that off, the event also featured a star-studded line-up of show dance performances by Blackpool 2017 Standard and Latin Champions, Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyova and Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko. Not to forget Damir Haluzan & Anna Mashchyts (Slovenia) who presented their very distinct interpretations of Latin show dances and Eldar Dzhafarov & Anna Sazina (Azerbaijan) who shared a very original show dance piece written, composed and choreographed together with Eldar’s sister. To top it off, the final evening also featured a Pro-Am show that is quite possibly the first of its kind on our shores by seven couples to mark their 7th championship. Making this event quite a historic one in Singapore!

Once again, our heartiest congratulations to Jovan, JiaMin, Kavin and Lindsey! 

Results of the SODC 2017 can be found at: Saturday (http://dancesportlive.net/dsl_sg/results/2017/11_25_sing_open/by_name.php) and Sunday (http://dancesportlive.net/dsl_sg/results/2017/11_26_sing_open/by_name.php)

Kavin and Lindsey, finalists in the
SODC 2017 – Amateur Closed Asia-Pacific Latin

Jovan and JiaMin making the finals of the
SODC 2017 –  Amateur Open Standard!

Photo courtesy to Kerrie Rolls Bourke

Catch the heart pumping action here: Kavin and Lindsey, Jovan and JiaMin or at SODC’s own video channel!

Getting back to our couples, we managed to catch-up with them to find out their thoughts on the workshop as well as the ballroom scene in Singapore.

1. Why should Singaporeans (and the general public) try Dancesport?
Jovan: To exercise! And it’s also a great way to socialise during parties and dinner and dance events. Most of all just to take a break from “the world” and have fun!

JiaMin: Yes, it’s a fun and engaging way to stay happy and healthy.

 

Lindsey and Kavin: It acts as a great form of exercise and it’s an activity that you can do from a very young age till a ripe old age. It works your entire body from your brain to your muscle coordination and is also a cardiovascular form of exercise. It (dance) has proven to prevent dementia, increase flexibility and strengthen your bones.

 

2. What are your greatest takeaways from ballroom dancing thus far?
Jovan: It gave me career options and taught me how to treat a lady right 😉

JiaMin: Indeed, positive communication, connection and respect are important for a successful partnership.

 

Lindsey: It teaches the boys how to be a gentlemen HAHAHAH

Lindsey and Kavin: It teaches you resilience and teamwork! It has taught me how to manage my time and to work smart and productively. It’s not purely about hard work. No use working hard if you are working the wrong way.

 

3. How was your experience teaching a class of students with varying background?
JiaMin: It was exciting, I’ve so much to share with the ballroom community. Everyone was very patient and cooperative during the workshop, which made things a lot easier for us.

Jovan: Yeah, it was really fun! Being able to work with different people was a great experience, it taught me new styles and ways to teach them (for the Youth Got to Move class). Through that, I also learnt how to communicate and give instructions on steps that were slightly more challenging.

 

Lindsey and Kavin: It’s always fun to teach a class of students from different levels and backgrounds. It’s fun to see how dancers from different genres and age groups interpret Latin ballroom dancing. Everyone brings something different to the dance floor and that’s what makes teaching fun and interesting for us.

 

4. What would your advice for dancing be to these new and budding dancers?
JiaMin: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! We all learn along the way, just laugh it off and get back to it.

Jovan: I would say, to have fun! And not to give up dancing so easily even though it might be boring/difficult at the start. It will reward you in the future.

 

Lindsey and Kavin: If you love it, keep doing it! Most importantly have fun and do not lose the joy and passion for dancing!
5. What do you hope to see in the local ballroom scene itself?
Jovan: Everyone working together to help promote and enhance the dancing world. Every dancer should also be treated fairly without bias.

JiaMin: I hope we can build a space where we can do formation ballroom dance, which has yet to develop in Singapore.

 

Lindsey and Kavin: We hope to see many more new competitors joining us on the dance floor and on the international stage! It’s always nice to see familiar Singaporean faces at overseas competitions 🙂

 

There you have it! So as a start, we do hope you do have dancing on your new year resolution for 2018!

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