The Singapore Ballet Academy (SBA) was established in 1958 by Frances Poh, Vernon Martinus and Soonee Goh following the amalgamation of two well-known ballet schools, “The Frances School of Dancing” and “The Malaya School of Ballet”. Under the direction of these three dynamic and dedicated teachers, the Academy has both raised the profile of dance in the local arts scene and lived up to its aims and has nurtured many talented dancers.

In its formative years, SBA students entertained audiences islandwide, as well as the then Federation of Malaya with many interesting and varied programmes. When Frances Poh and Vernon Martinus left Singapore in 1965, the leadership of SBA was left in the capable hands of Soonee Goh. Most memorable in 1966 was the staging of the technically and emotionally demanding “Giselle Act I” in which Goh Soo Khim & Goh Choo San danced as Giselle and Albrecht, much to the enjoyment of the Singapore audience. The late 1960s was also a period of experimentation for SBA, in which bold and challenging new works were produced. In 1969, the late Choo San, appointed official choreographer of the Academy introduced innovative use of music and fresh interpretations to dance.

In 1970, the late Choo San left Singapore to begin his dance career overseas. Soonee left a year later and SBA came under the guidance of their sister, Soo Khim who has then returned from her professional training at the Australian Ballet School. During the period of the ’70s and early ’80s SBA students continued to participate actively in most of the Singapore Arts and Dance Festivals, as well as National Day celebrations with innovative and original works. At the same time, many also further pursued their full-time training overseas and became professional dancers and teachers. The founding of Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) in 1988, under the direction of Soo Khim and the late Anthony Then, created new scope of performing opportunities for students in Singapore. The Academy was proud to have seven of its former students – Jamaludin Jalil, Chantel Pestana, Elizabeth Thng, Mohamed Noor Sarman, Jeffrey Tan, Cheah Mei Sing, Janice Chan and Ginny Gan – as Founder Members and dancers of SDT. The Academy’s official affiliation with SDT in 1995 further benefited its students through the direct link with a professional dance company. Sharing the same grounds as SDT serves to motivate aspiring dancers to continue their dance education and to develop a passion for the art. SBA students have been actively involved in SDT’s performances, making up the corps de ballet in full-length productions such as “The Nutcracker”, “Coppelia”, “Giselle”, “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty”.

Since the ’90s SBA has been rewarded with more of its students gaining entry into overseas professional dance schools. Our students have been accepted into the Australian Ballet School, the New Zealand School of Dance, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance. Through the years, SBA is proud to see many of its students doing well in the professional dance world and teaching profession, locally and abroad.

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SDT Co-Founder Ms Goh Soo Khim Receives a Lifetime Achievement Award