Remembering Our Days; SDT Dance Pioneers



Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire [others].” – Robin S. Sharma

Mei Sing first joined School of the Arts (SOTA) in 2007 as teaching faculty, before being appointed as a Subject Head (Ballet) in 2008 and Head of Dance in 2010.  Mei Sing’s journey has been a never-ending path of constant learning. It was upon her retirement as one of SDT’s pioneer dancers that she has had to acquire a diverse range of skills to tide her through her new season at SOTA, delving into curriculum development to administration and budgeting. She has had to put on a brand new cap of learning. Through her journey as a professional dancer, Mei Sing recognised that the time spent with her students is not just about developing their gift of dance, which she calls “their first love”, but to also help them to discover their “second loves”, dance and arts related interests such as pedagogy and arts administration, which sometimes blossoms to life long passions.

Coming from a single parent home, Mei Sing was privileged to be the only one out of her three siblings to have learnt ballet from young. At the age of 5, she began taking classes at Singapore Ballet Academy (SBA) under Ms Goh Soo Khim, her lifelong mentor. What started out as recreation soon became her passion, and Mei Sing received a scholarship from SBA which enabled her to continue her pursuit of dance.

More than attending ballet classes, SBA and Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) grew to become Mei Sing’s family and second-home. As both SBA and SDT resided in the same premises at Lloyd Road, Mei Sing would often sit in the studios after her ballet classes to watch the founding members rehearse. Watching the company rehearse and perform ignited her desire to pursue ballet professionally. In fact, one of this young Singaporean girl’s dreams then was to be able to dance Choo-San Goh’s repertoire.

Although the path towards being a professional dancer was somewhat uncharted and deemed unviable in Singapore, Mei Sing’s trust and confidence in Ms Goh and Mr Anthony Then, the co-founders of SDT, remained unwavering and steadfast. Drawing upon their strength and courage, she took a leap of faith into the unknowns of pursuing dance professionally.  Her risky venture soon paid off, as numerous doors opened for her.

In 1992, she was the very first recipient to be awarded the Shell Centenary Scholarship for the Arts from the National Arts Council. Just a year later, she accomplished yet another feat of being the third Singaporean to join the Australian Ballet School (ABS). Mei Sing recalls the hardship and challenges she faced while in Australia, including racism, being homesick, as well as the immense pressure to uphold expectations at ABS. Nonetheless, she fondly remembers her journey in Australia which has greatly shaped her as a person and a dancer.

Returning to SDT in 1995, Mei Sing was no longer the “baby” of the company, but a member of the SBA and SDT family. Mei Sing finally found herself in the sweet spot of her dance career, achieving her dreams of becoming a Singaporean ballerina performing on Singapore’s stage, an honour that she holds close to her heart. During the height of her career, Mei Sing recalls performing a wide diversity of roles and works by notable choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, Thierry Malandains, Boi Sakti and Choo-San Goh during her journey in SDT. She also toured to numerous countries such as Spain, Mexico, France, America, Australia and Philippines with the company.

More than being a company dancer in SDT, Mei Sing also taught dance. Her typical day would begin with teaching a SBA class at 7.45am, SDT’s company classes and rehearsals from 10am, preceded by teaching either dance syllabus or adult ballet classes after 5pm.

She vividly recalls her first experience as a teacher at SBA when she was just 17; Ms Goh Soo Khim gave her the opportunity to teach a class and even accompanied her on the piano.  That was a trajectory step for her journey as a teacher at SBA. Mei Sing has coached and groomed numerous SDT dancers including Janice Chan, Elaine Heng, Chua Bi Ru, Kwok Min Yi, as well as Evelyn Toh and Chia Poh Hian who later joined T.H.E. Dance Company and T.H.E. second company respectively, and Adele Goh from Frontier Danceland.

In her years with the company, Mei Sing was wholly invested in seeing SDT grow to be a vibrant and well-recognised dance company, that during her free time, she would often remain in the office to help then General Manager, Ms Ng Siew Eng, with various tasks. Despite a long strenuous day of physical activities, she continued working on paperwork till late at night as she was given the opportunity to helm the administration arm of SDT’s Adult Ballet classes. Mei Sing also served as Rehearsal Assistant for several of SDT’s Classical productions. Arduous as it may sound, Mei Sing found great purpose and delight in giving her utmost to the development of SBA and SDT.

Upon retirement as a full time dancer, and with an accumulation experience in the art form, Mei Sing soon stepped forward into another unknown. She joined the pioneering team of the School Of The Arts (SOTA). Then a newcomer to the arts education scene in Singapore, SOTA is seen as a step forward for arts training. It is an institution that provides young talent with pre-tertiary professional arts training in major artistic disciplines such as visual arts, drama, music and dance together with academic curricula. With the weight of many students’ education upon her team and her shoulders, Mei Sing faced many new challenges and greater responsibilities. She also recognised the importance of her personal journey as a professional dancer which allowed her to gain her own sensibilities, and fuel her calling of educating the next generation of dancers. Beyond the students, Mei Sing is constantly inspired by this exciting enclave of the many art forms forging together.

Mei Sing attributes most of her opportunities and experiences to Ms Goh Soo Khim, who has been a supportive mentor and in certain ways, a second mother throughout her journey.  Following in the footsteps and legacy of her mentor, Mei Sing has also taken it upon herself to nurture and develop generations of dancers, constantly believing “Dance creates people who are determined, driven and disciplined. No matter what field one ends up in, the influence of dance shapes and strengthens a person.”


1978 – Started learning ballet at SBA

1987 – Featured on Singapore Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘Young Talents Series’

1989 – Scholar with the Singapore Dance Theatre

1990 – Awarded a half scholarship to London Studio Centre (declined due to insufficient funds)

Apprentice with SDT

1991 – Awarded the Shell Centenary and National Arts Council Scholarship for the Arts

1992 – Studied at Australian Ballet School

1995 – Joined SDT as an Artist

2003 – Hosted Art Central’s Dance Series “Go Tutu Go”

2005 – Royal Academy of Dance’s Teaching Certificate Programme – Distinction

2006 – Retired from SDT (Dec)

2007 – Become a Full time teacher at SBA

Started  working with SOTA (Aug)

2008 – Subject Head (Ballet)

2010 – Head of Dance

2013 – Invited as Guest faculty for Interlochen Academy of Arts (Dance)

2015 – Jury Member, Asian Grand Prix Classical Ballet Competition 2015 (Hong Kong)

Guest faculty Asian Grand Prix Classical Ballet)

Chairperson of the World Dance Alliance’s Workshop committee, in Asia-Pacific Dance Bridge:

Connectivity through Dance.