Remembering Our Days; SDT Dance Pioneers


Forging the prospects of being a lawyer, Jamaludin Jalil became a founding dancer of SDT and remained steadfast in his passion for dance.

Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.

– Martha Graham

The tale of most artists’ journey to their success would conventionally revolve around certain risks or sacrifices. For Jamaludin Jalil, the choice was seemingly complicated to others, but a straightforward decision for him. Becoming a lawyer or dancer; to pursue stability or passion? The adept dancer would go on to select the latter, and has never regretted since.

Jamaludin’s illustrious dance career started at a relatively late age of 19. Having a 7 month interval till his university education, he initially took up several jobs before eventually deciding that they were not cut out for him. Through the recommendation of fellow school mate and SDT founding dancer, Elizabeth Thng to attend ballet classes, Jamaludin enthusiastically agreed and started his formative dance training at SBA. Three months into the lessons, he faced several financial difficulties and was unable to continue paying the fees. After informing Ms Goh Soo Khim about his situation and intentions to withdraw, she generously granted Jamaludin a scholarship to continue attending the academy.

Entering NUS, Jamaludin was originally enrolled as an Arts major despite having wanted to pursue law, due to limited availability in the course. His constant appeals and requests to the Law faculty’s dean finally paid off when he was allowed to transfer to the Law faculty. Graduating in 1987, Jamaludin was called to the bar and was ready to be officiated as a lawyer.  As he was about to join a law firm, he received an invitation from Ms Goh to join the newly established SDT in 1988.

Presented with the option to select a life of stability or one filled with passion and challenges, it was a difficult decision that took him almost 6 months to decide. Pondering over this arduous choice, he considered the possibility of a career switch from a lawyer to a dancer and vice versa, at a later age. The choice was apparent; dance requires a strenuous physic that only comes at a younger age.

Describing his significance as one of SDT’s founding dancer, Jamaludin did not find his contributions of utmost importance. Instead, he attributed his contributions as well as those of fellow founding dancers simply as a form of passion. Their love for dance and shared determination led them to envision the validation of a professional Singapore dance company that upholds exceptional standards, propelling SDT into an internationally renowned company today. Despite numerous weary experiences as a dancer, Jamaludin’s burning desire for dance was never extinguished.

In 1995, Jamaludin started pursuing his Masters in Arts (Dance) at New York University. He then joined the Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal the following year, prior to returning to SDT with greater experiences and expanded perspectives. He was then appointed the Assistant Ballet Master.

Some memorable recollections of his journey in SDT includes theatrical works such as Boi Sakti’s Reminiscing the Moon and Sakiko’s Oshima’s Whose Voice Cries Out. To Jamaludin, such works pushes the dancer beyond dancing. It assists them with their growth and forces them to utilise techniques for expression, rather than solely focusing on their technical movement. Having the opportunity to perform such works that go beyond dance, Jamaludin fondly embraces these difficulties and challenges that developed him over the years.

After retiring from SDT in 2003, Jamaludin was appointed as the Executive Director of iDance central from 2004-2006, before joining NAFA as a lecturer. His greatest take away from his years of experience is that a dancer needs to be invested in the vision of the company. They should be provided with the opportunity to perform and feel valued. Through the provision of such intangible benefits, it increases the receptiveness of the dancers towards working harder and hence, contributing to the overall artistic quality. This then allows the company to elevate itself towards its supposed vision.

Being an educator for approximately a decade, Jamaludin hopes to inculcate certain values into his students and relay the message that dance should not be simply just a choice, but a driving force of their lives. Without the desire and passion to dance, a career as a dancer would be unfeasible. To Jamaludin, it is the responsibility as a dancer or creator of dance, to be adding value to our human existence. Dance is not merely a form of actions or entertainment, but an avenue of expression and emotions that encompasses art.



1981 – Begun learning Ballet and received a scholarship at SBA

1982 – Started his Bachelor in Law at NUS

1987 – Called to the Bar

1988 – Joined SDT as a founding dancer

1992 – Recipient of the Young Artist Award (Dance) by NAC

1994 – Awarded the Shell Centenary and National Arts Council Scholarship for the Arts

1995 – Pursued a Masters in Fine Art (Dance) at New York University

1996 – Joined Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal as a dancer

1997 – Appointed Assistant Ballet Master of SDT

2003 – Retired from SDT

2004 – Became Executive Director of iDance Central

2006 – Joined NAFA as Senior Lecturer