Arts & Culture

Adelene Stanley: Dancing to Create Shapes and Convey Emotions

What is it about ballet that makes it timeless?

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As a young child in Singapore, my mother sent me to ballet classes because I am a girl and, well, most girls learnt ballet growing up. It was, and still is, a common sight to see girls of kindergarten ages prancing around shopping centres in their tutus and stockings after class.

Although there are many accessible dance forms, especially in a cosmopolitan city like Singapore, parents continue to choose ballet for their children, instead of alternatives such as street dance, salsa or jazz. However, these classes can kickstart a passion that will eventually grow into a career. This is true for Singaporean dancer Adelene Stanley.

Choreographer, dancer and teacher, Adelene has performed in and toured countries such as France, Israel and Taiwan. This time, she will be returning to Singapore in the internationally acclaimed performance INALA, a production that she was also part of in 2014.

What is she looking forward to this time? Let’s find out.

What is it about dance that draws you to it?

It allows me to move my body in ways I never knew I could to create shapes and ideas, and convey emotions. When I dance, I feel transported into a different space, and it’s magical.

Ballet is such a Singaporean experience, in the sense that most girls growing up would have taken a lesson or two. Why do you think this is so, compared with other dance forms such as flamenco or even hip-hop?

Comparing various dance styles, I believe parents put their little girls through ballet because it offers the most grace and poise. In addition, it builds strength and teaches discipline, balance and control.

You have travelled to several countries for both training and performances. How does the perception and reception of dance differ between countries?

I have come to realise that different countries and cultures show different levels of appreciation. Some countries, particularly in Europe, are more open-minded when it comes to perceiving dance and appreciating abstract or cutting-edge works. Countries in Asia may still prefer watching the more traditional classical ballet and modern dance.

I understand that you first performed in INALA in 2014. How’s the experience like going at it for the second time?

I’m feeling pumped and excited to be back! Really looking forward to sharing the stage with some new cast. Can’t wait to recreate and experience the magic! Back in 2014 and 2015, we toured the UK, Scotland and Russia. But this time, we’re bringing the show to Singapore! I’ve poured so much of myself into it, and I can’t believe my family and friends here will finally get to see it.

What is one aspect of the dance scene in Singapore you would like to see changed, so that more dancers have access to the kinds of opportunities you managed to earn for yourself?

Perhaps not something to change, but rather introducing new platforms to better bridge a dancer in training to becoming a working professional. Providing opportunities to perform, and even choreograph, to build stage experience, confidence as well as creativity.

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