Some of Gala’s dancers

One of this year’s George Town Festival highlights was Jérôme Bel’s indelible Gala that featured Penang’s own fabulous stars. From a 7 year old Chinese student, to a 75 year old Indian retiree, Penang’s vibrant multiculturalism was truly reflected over two nights of joyous dance. We recently spoke to some of Gala’s amazing performers to talk about their favourite memories from this year’s Festival.

*Photos were provided by the performers.

Kai Heng

Name: Kai Heng

Age: 7

What do you think about the concept of Gala: I think the concept of GALA is great, as everyone can dance without any constraint – whether you are normal, disabled, old, or young, all of us can dance freely with our own style. It brings a very positive image to the audience.

How did you feel about the show overall: The show is FANTASTIC. From the start I did not know what to do until four days later when I performed on the stage. It’s really amazing and such a great experience for me.

Eugene (fifth from left)

Name: Eugene

Age: 28

How did Gala change you as a person: It let me explore the subject of “performing” in a whole new perspective. I used to sing, and I often restrained myself into a circumstance where I will pre-plan everything prior to the performance (where I should stand, where I should walk to, hand gestures, facial expressions, how I carry out the song, etc.). After I joined Gala, I learned that there’s no boundaries in everything; everywhere can be a stage, everyone can perform (in this case dance!).

We don’t have to always plan ahead, spontaneous improvisation can be good. Now I no longer limit myself, not anymore.

What do you think about the concept of Gala: I think it is very adventurous and fresh. I rarely see a performance that gather professionals and amateurs from all sort of backgrounds, doing the same performance. There’s no discrimination among us. I am glad to be part of Gala!

Farah (second from right)

Name: Farah

Age: 22

How did Gala change me: I never taught a dancer in me existed as I’m a theatre actor. Combining so many different dance forms and movements in such a diverse group felt truly harmonious.

Kai Beng (left)

Name: Kai Beng

Age: 48 years old

What was it like participating in Gala: Very enjoyable. As a former dancer, going back on stage and taking part was like a brand new experience.

What do you think about the concept of Gala: I think it’s very good. For a lot of Penang people, they think you must be a professional to be on the stage. As long as you have the heart to express yourself on the stage, that’s a performance already.

Vireyeh (back left)

Name: Vireyeh

Age: 68

Tell us your favourite Gala moment: When the audience looked at us performing, they clapped their hands, smiled, and laughed. I enjoyed making the public happy

What is your opinion on dance: Dance is something good because it elevates the human soul and eradicates vices. Dancing is something divine. You can show yourself to the world through dance

Ashlynn  (third from left)

Name: Ashlynn

Age: 19

Tell us one or more of your favourite moments during Gala: On the first night after our costume change, one of the really nice things was seeing everyone look so great even though we were out of our comfort zone

What do you think about the concept of Gala: i think the concept is really interesting especially since the public hasn’t seen anything like that. I’m a trained dancer, I’ve never danced in that aspect. Gala allowed everyone to tap into dance that we all have within.

What is your opinion on dance: It’s a great art form to tell a message regardless of the message. Really interesting that Jérôme Bel is able to tap into everyone’s dance. Personally, dance brings forth a message to connect with people to create a common ground to connect with people.

Swee Hoon (right)

Name: Swee Hoon

Age: 59

The best thing about Gala: We were all strangers to each other, so the most precious thing was that within a short time we became very close. From the beginning until the end, the relationship among the group was harmonious. It was not easy to do the movements and we encouraged and helped each other.

What do you think about the concept of Gala: I love the concept, it’s fantastic. It tells people that you don’t have to be afraid of what you are. You just try your best to complete a performance. It’s beautiful. I was so happy that i joined.

Shavonne (front centre)

Name: Shavonne

Age: 8

What was your favourite moment during Gala: The dancing

How did Gala change you as a person: I can perform on stage without being afraid

Siti Marina (fourth from right)

Name: Siti Marina

Favourite Gala Moment: I was very happy when we joined hands and sang GEORGETOWN, GEORGETOWN.

How did Gala change you as a person: I became more patient and confident

What is your opinion on dance: Dance helps me express myself and makes me happy.

How did you feel about the show overall: Excellent show but I wish I had more photos and videos for my memory.

 

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