The much-discussed lion dance performance blending with tap dance will be removed from the 100 Lions segment of Chingay 2021 as the local dance troupe Dance Spectrum International (DSI) has decided not to participate in Chingay 2021.
The People’s Association (PA), DSI and Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation (SWDLDF) said in a joint statement on Monday (28 December) that the DSI’s decision is “in consideration of the young dancers affected by cyberbullying”.
Earlier, it was reported that a behind-the-scenes video showing a group of tap dancers wearing tutus preparing for the Lion Dance segment for a Chingay 2021 performance has garnered public backlash on social media.
The video uploaded by Lianhe Zaobao on 11 December, featured five dancers wearing colourful tutus blending tap dance with the lion dance in front of a green screen for the camera.
Soon after the video was published, members of the public criticised it for being “nonsense” and “disrespecting the tradition”.
In the petition, it said that lion dance performers are proud of their costumes, and thus it is “not appropriate to have another costume from a vastly unrelated and unequal realm worn under the lion dance costume”.
“There is a fine line between pushing the boundaries of the art form, and preserving its artistic integrity and traditions,” the petition statement read.
The Lion Dance Singapore also clarified that while they do not think an all-girls or all-women troupe is an insult, what they witnessed “was an act that would sabotage the lion dance in Singapore”.
PA, DSI, SWDLDF do not condone online hurtful remarks and personal attacks on individuals posted on social media
With the news of the 100 Lions tap-dance segment drew online reactions, the PA said that the Chingay working committee from the three parties had “met separately over the past week to discuss concerns from key stakeholders and find ways to resolve the matter”.
“All three parties also agreed that while we welcome different views on artistic expression, we do not condone online hurtful remarks and personal attacks on individuals posted on social media. It is not consistent with the gracious and inclusive society that we wish to see,” the statement read.
While understanding and respecting DSI’s decision, the PA and SWDLDF said that they express their support and solidarity with DSI, and “hope the young dancers affected will heal from the harm done to them”.
It also noted that PA will remove the tap dance portion from the 100 Lions segment of next year’s Chingay.
In fact, the Director of Singapore Chingay & Events Network from the PA, Tan Swee Leng has also issued a statement on 18 Dec to condemn the attacks on individuals from various social media platforms.
“The PA has noticed hurtful remarks on various social media platforms directed at DSI, its principal/choreographer and the young ladies, which have distressed them and their families,” Ms Tan said.
She continued, “While we appreciate the sharing of different opinions on arts and culture, PA condemns such attacks on individuals.”
According to The Straits Times, the Lion Dance performance blended with tap dance is set to be performed by the DSI’s dancers aged between 14 and 30.
The choreographer, Sharon Liew, who is also the founder and director of DSI, is said to have spent two weeks researching lion dance traditions and elements and even invited a lion dance teacher to train her troupe.
Netizens feel unpleasant to the label of “cyberbullying” by the organisers
The announcement of the withdrawal of DSI attracted the attention of netizens, with some netizens feeling unpleasant to the label of “cyberbullying” by the organisers.
Penning their comments on the Facebook page of The Straits Times and Channel News Asia, the netizens argued that the public criticism was directed at the organisers and the fact that the lion dance culture is not being respected, but not against the performers. It is “not the kid fault”, the netizens, adding that the organiser boards “who had given the green light” should have “more sense and sensibilities”.
As seen by TOC, the netizens who commented on the PA’s Facebook page – which released the announcements – also said that by reasoning the withdrawal of DSI as “cyberbullying”, it is “taking the focus away from the organising planners”.
They said the PA should apologise for “insensitivity in planning” and “insulting the rich cultural heritage”.
“Just owe up to your mistake and apologise, for goodness sake. Don’t use your kids as human shields.”