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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, **** ***.
- 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.
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