Did You Know These Tamil School Students Are Global Dance Champions?

  • 02 Jul 2019

These are the superstars most Malaysians have never heard of!

Eight Tamil school students from Rawang are making the country proud by winning dance competitions around the world. 

The 11-year-olds - seven girls and a boy - from Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil) Rawang, won the Dance Festival held in Saint Petersburg on March 14, and another one in former the European nation of Georgia on June 19 by impressing the judges with traditional Indian dance performances.

Astro Ulagam spoke to teacher Retha Nadarajah, who was in charge of the students in both contests, to find out more details. 

According to her, it all started she and the school headmaster decided to "achieve" something for the school.  

"I started scouring the internet for competitions we can join and came across this dance festival co-organised by Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) at several countries around the world. 

"I put in the application and after several months, received an invitation from Unesco to join the contest. We held an 'audition', where we selected the eight best dancers who we thought stood a chance of winning," she recalled. 

However, Retha felt professional help was needed if they wanted to ace the championship. 

So, they brought in professional dance choreographer Sasi Kalimuthu to train the children. 

After the dance coreography was all set, came the issue of money. Sponsors and parents chipped in to fund the RM80,000 needed for the duration of the trip. 

The kids performed kolattam - a form of stick dance on the stage, and emerged champions, defeating 21 other participating countries. 

As winners, they received certificates and a 50% discount on the joining fee for the next competition, to be held in Georgia. 

Having to grapple with money concerns again for a second trip, Retha shot a video to crowdfund the trip and within days, the video became widely circulated on social media, giving them the funds they needed. 

Performance garners standing ovation

For the Georgia competition, the students chose to perform karakattam - an ancient folk dance in which performers balance pots on their heads. 

A couple of dummy horses were also thrown in to the mix. 

This performance got the kids a standing ovation from the judges and the crowd, and there were even requests for a repeat, which the students could not accommodate due to the physically taxing first round of performance. 

Our students beat groups from 51 other countries to win the competition. One of the judges came up on stage and personally extended an invite to them to join another contest being held in Mexico in November. 

However, this time, the performers do not have to worry about their expenses, as everything, expect their flight tickets, are taken care of by the organisers. 

"Some 35 countries will be participating in the Mexico festival and I understand it will be a contest between previous winners of competitions," Retha said, adding that she had confidence in her charges. 

This is not the first time Tamil school students have won competitions, either locally or internationally.

Recently, four Year Six students of SJK (T) Ladang Prye in George Town won their first international gold medal at the International Science and Invention Fair (ISIF) being held in Bali, Indonesia, by making water filters, teeth whitener and odour remover sachets using disposed mandarin orange peel and coconut shell. 

In December last year, students from SJK (T) Kajang made the country proud by winning the silver and bronze medals in two different categories of the 20th International Robotics Olympiad (IRO) competition held in the Philippines.

Photo source: Retha Nadarajah

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