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The Role of Social Support for Promising Male Dance Students in Singapore (2015)

Principal Investigator: Dr Joey Chua

This study builds on an earlier study by Chua, “The Role of Social Support in Dance Talent Development”,1examining the types of support—informational, instrumental, and emotional—that promising male dance students receive from family, teachers and peers. Nine male dancers aged 14 to 27 who were participants in three different dance programmes –  after-school activities, a formal nine-month Dance Talent Development Programme with professional exposure, and tertiary-level dance programmes – were interviewed alongside significant people in their dance journey. Data was collected from participant observation, interviews, and documents over a one-year period. The study concludes the importance of all the three types of support in providing practical means and motivation for male dancers to pursue dance as a career.

1Chua, J. (2015a). The role of social support in dance talent development. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 28(2), 169–195. doi:10.1177/0162353215578281

Title: Dance Reenactment through Observer Facilitation: Theoretical Reflections from an Empirical Investigation (2014)

Principal Investigator: Mr John Mead

Practice as Research (PaR) is the view that practice is both the object of research as well as the research itself. However, in dance, choreographers who embrace this approach encounter a challenging two-fold problem: to use self-observation to access information about what is taking place during practice without simultaneously disrupting the very process of creativity. There is a scarcity of literature that addresses practical research approaches or tools with which PaR can be enabled directly within the choreographic realm. To address this problem empirically, a new choreographic research method called “Mimetically-cued Recall” (MCR) is employed. MCR is an approach to observation, reenactment and recall of creative methods employed by choreographers conducting first-person dance practice as research.

Two series of participatory, action-based movement experiments with MCR were conducted. Facilitators were employed to create detailed reenactments of each choreographer’s creative work.  Subsequent viewing and interaction with the reenacted work enabled choreographers and dancers to revisit their creative processes in order to research various aspects in retrospect and to reflect on the process, providing some empirical insight in to issues such as memory, observation, and reenactment that we subsequently connect with theoretical literature on PaR in Dance.


A Life Measured in Song: Jennifer Tham (E-book) (2021)

Research Lead: Mr Albert Yeo

Principal Investigator: Ms Michelle Yeo

Co-Investigator: Dr Eleanor A L Tan

The Art of Jennifer Tham (Documentary) (2021)

Producers: Ms Michelle Yeo, Dr Eleanor A L Tan, Mr Gavin Lim, Ms Emily Moh

Film Director: Mr Gavin Lim

In two parts comprising an e-book and a documentary, this research documents Jennifer Tham’s (2012 Cultural Medallion recipient) artistic practice and commitment to musical communities in Singapore, regionally and internationally. It explores how Tham’s values, beliefs, and aspirations inform her personae as conductor, composer and educator, particularly in her advocacy for ‘Living Music’ to motivate and rejuvenate the creativity of composers, and to stimulate public interest in choral music.

The film documentary documents Tham’s musical and educative journey back to school as she pursues her Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Filiming was completed before the COVID-19 situation became dire globally.

Ordinary Music Listeners / Music Students, Piano Teachers, Rock Band Members (2018)

Principal Investigator: Dr Gavin Lee

Co-Investigator: Mr Shawn Loh

Singapore’s internationally and ethnically varied population represents a diverse range of music tastes and attitudes towards music. Musical attitudes—i.e. musical preferences and values—have shifted as Singapore rapidly changes. This is true from traditional to popular and experimental music. This qualitative study outlines the perceptions held by different demographic groups of Singapore music vis-à-vis popular genres, understanding musical tastes and the identity and value of Singapore music in a global context.

Of interest in this study was the youth demographic, given that Singapore youth regularly take top spots at annual International Math and Science Olympiads, have literacy rates among the highest in the world and are required to pursue at least one non-academic activity after formal curriculum time towards holistic development. Separate interviews were conducted with students aged 13-16 with extensive experience with music instruction both in school—covering different music programs in and outside of formal curriculum time, and including the specialized School of the Arts—and by private tutors, to understand their specific experiences in music education.

The Social and Cultural Capital of Singapore's DIY Electronic Music Scenes (2018)

Principal Investigator: Ms Kar-Men Cheng

This qualitative study of the non-mainstream electronic music scenes in Singapore analyses the cultural and social capital generated from their unique set of values and network structure. These different scenes, tethered to different musical genres and subcultures, are united by an ideological orientation to authenticity and autonomy, generating social cohesion, and maximising diverse forms of capital. This study showcases how independent music artistes, producers, organisers, and fans from different facets of society produce social, cultural and financial capital for diverse stakeholders and proposes spaces for experimentation, and social structures that support more diverse definitions of merit.

Multicultural Influences in Three Singaporean Contemporary Chamber Compositions (2014)

Principal Investigator: Dr Cheryl Lim Xuanzi

Singapore, a young and modern nation, is universally recognized as a multi-racial, multi-religious and cosmopolitan society that embraces both diversity and cohesion. This active promotion as well as the unique Singaporean way of life invariably boosts and results in the inter-influences and juxtaposition of certain distinct ethnic cultures in Singapore’s musical landscape.

The cultural influences and aesthetics of three contemporary chamber compositions by Singaporean composers are explored in this study – Four Taiwanese Aboriginal Songs by Dr Dr Zechariah Goh Toh Chai, Xin Tian You by Phoon Yew Tian and Last Dragonfly Dance by Ho Chee Kong. These works are built upon western traditional models of form, texture and instrumentation yet are imbued with ethnic cultural traits and features found either in Singapore or in its neighbouring countries like Taiwan and China. Besides examining some of these cultural influences in the compositions mentioned, this paper provides a background of musical cultures that predominates the musical landscape of Singapore as well as sheds some light on the brief but rapid development of western local compositions in the country, providing a glimpse of how influences of western and ethnic cultural aesthetics in Singaporean contemporary compositions came about.


Beyond Representation: Appropriating Suffering and Critical Strategies in Artistic Responses to Disasters in The Necessary Stage's Boxing Day: The Tsunami Project (2017)

Principal Investigator: Mr Shawn Chua

Boxing Day: The Tsunami Project was staged in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that devastated the region. This theatre work responded to the event through the Verbatim Theatre method in incorporating narratives derived from interviews carried out in Aceh, Phang Nga, Phuket and Pengang. This research articulates how theatre-makers respond to a catastrophe that is, in some ways, necessarily beyond representation, and how they attempt to move beyond a ‘representation’ that speaks on behalf of those affected. It does so by highlighting the human experiences of suffering and evoking local moral worlds, and explores whether theatre should even begin to engage with such subject matter.

Theatre and Citizenship: Young People's Participation (2013)

Principal Investigator: Ms Claudia Wong

Through a workshop process with young people, this study explores the efficacy of theatre in eliciting views of young people on matters of citizenship through an experimental space to understand the various ways in which young people negotiate and understand their Singaporean citizenship in a sociogeographical laboratory that allows for possibilities within a cocoon of mental and emotional safety. The tendency for self-censorship in participants illustrates their negotiations of different power relations. In young people, this also means that what is not being said, or the attempts to silence themselves, is as important as what is being expressed. As a result, this research aims to see the effectiveness of theatre in bringing forth such views, by passing self-censorship, as well as participants’ views of contemporary Singapore through the medium of theatrical techniques.

Traditional Arts

History of Malay Dance In Singapore (2019)

Principal Investigators: Mr Muhammad Fazli Taib Bin Saearani and Mr Azrin Abdul Rahim

This article provides an overview of the history of Malay dance in Singapore from Pre-World War II to the 2010s. It addresses the dance genres the local scene engages with, cultural influences on Malay dance and the cultural identity of Malay dance in Singapore vis-à-vis contemporary developments. Apart from a literature review, the study was informed by interviews with 13 practitioners and figures in the Malay dance scene, as well as observations from a forum on Malay dance. 

The process of institutionalization of Chinese dance in Singapore, 1980s–1990s (2018)

Principal Investigator: Dr Joey Chua

This study articulates the development of Singapore Chinese dance in the 1980s– 1990s using Bourdieu’s conceptual tools of cultural, economic, social, and symbolic capitals. It explores how the Chinese dance community—artists and intellectuals—had appropriated capitals in the process of institutionalization in dance. While the 1960s–1970s are characterized by the mode of creating a hybrid multi-racial dance, the 1980s–1990s are about preserving ethnic Chinese dance.

The emergence of Chinese dance in post-colonial Singapore, 1960s–1970s (2017)

Principal Investigator: Dr Joey Chua

The pioneer generation of amateur Chinese dancers in the People’s Association Dance Company and the National Dance Company marked the emergence of Singapore Chinese dance in the public sphere during the 1960s–1970s. Relying mainly on primary sources, the development of Singapore Chinese dance shows how Chinese dance as a hybrid cultural form is constituted through the actions of the ruling elite and individual efforts. The rise of amateur Chinese dance can be seen as an outcome of the effect of a politicized node of fusion and interaction. Discussion focuses on three aspects of the development: (1) a cultural policy that served the ideology of nation building, (2) the lack of state funding for dance, and (3) the slow accumulation of cultural capital by dance practitioners.

The Authenticity of Chinese dance in Singapore, 2000–2012 (2017)

Principal Investigator: Dr Joey Chua

This study examines how two dance companies, the Dance Ensemble Singapore and Hokkien Huay Kuan Dance Theatre, with the support of private funders, appropriated high level of cultural capital and authenticated their own distinctive style of Singapore Chinese dance. Relying mainly on primary sources—press materials and dance programs, I analyse how the discourses of Singapore Chinese dance has perceived itself as a fusion of contemporary, wushu, Teochew opera, and ethnic Chinese dance.

Quantitative Acoustic Data Collection & Qualitative Feedback Gathering of Modernized Chinese Musical Instruments (Bamboo Flute & Erhu) Based on Theobald Boehm Principle of Open Pipe and Science of Acoustic Material / 竹笛与二胡制作声学设计及声量测试概述 (2017) (Publication in Mandarin)

Principal Investigator: Mr Ng Teck Seng (黄德成)

Despite the long history and development of Chinese musical instruments, acoustic design has been a barrier to their suitability as ensemble instruments. It is proposed that pitch and timbral precision would be a step towards better harmonisation between different orchestra sections and a sense of uniformity in instrument temperament within the ensemble.

Focusing on the bamboo flute (dizi) and erhu, this study considers how design, construction and dimensions affect various acoustic characteristics of the instruments, and how these can be improved to resolve common problems faced by players, such as over-blowing of the dizi, as well as timbral control and pitch stability of the erhu.

Good Chance, Hor Chim Or (2017) / 好彩,侯深湖 (Publication in Mandarin and English)

Principal Investigator: Mr Shen Jihua (沈继华)

Translator: Mr Edward Seah (谢佳鸣)

This biography documents the experiences of Mr Hor Chim Or, one of the pioneer Peking Opera practitioners in Singapore, including his endeavours in the arts, sports and business.

Odissi Documentation Project (2016)

Principal Investigator: Mr Kiran Kumar

This praxeological study of Odissi as practiced at Chowk Centre for Dance in Singapore serves to both expound current practice as well as create suggestions for a future direction of Odissi training. While the focus of this project is decidedly on rhythm in Odissi, the observation of structure in dance-making towards the embodiment of rhythm by the practitioner has necessarily taken a more holistic approach. Apart from qualitative research, this study was informed by knowledge from related fields of sports medicine, yoga and music to inform the present focus of embodying rhythm in dance.

Physical and mental preparation are proposed as a primary layer of structure for the dance practitioner. Aesthetic considerations in dance-making are operative at the secondary and tertiary layers of structure which I have described as ‘inhabiting shape’ and ‘relational articulation of form’. A further, more complex aesthetic layer of structure is the system of rhythm as shared between dance and music in the South Asian traditions.

Pictorial History of Teochew Opera in Singapore / 潮声留影 (2016) (Publication in Mandarin)

Principal Investigator: Mr Su Zhangkai (苏章恺)

Teochew opera was developed from Southern Opera (nanxi) and its origins can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty. It was introduced to other parts of the world including to Singapore through early Chinese immigrants and there have been records of this artform in Singapore as early as 1887. In Singapore, its heyday in the early 1900s saw the establishment of many local Teochew Opera troupes and amateur groups. Teochew Opera movies enabled the traditional performing art to continue flourishing up till the early 1960s. However, the availability of other forms of entertainment subsequently diminished the popularity and practice of Teochew Opera.

This publication is a collection of print artefacts, including performance flyers, opera manuscripts, record covers, advertisements, souvenir magazines documenting the heritage of Teochew Opera in Singapore.