Without a word, it has the power to touch your heart, move your soul and to inspire you. It can tell stories of love, sadness and hope. This is the power of dance. Pat Siva fell in love with this amazing creative art form in her late teens and this happy and passionate relationship has endured until today. Pat beamed when she said, “Dance is what keeps me alive!” To further explain what she meant by this, she told me about an exhibition that she’d seen in Amsterdam called, BODY WORLDS – The Happiness Project. She explained that the creator of this exhibition, Dr. Gunthert von Hagens believes that “….there is a direct link between happiness, health and wellbeing (that) has been proven by major medical studies.” The philosophy behind this exhibition left a profound impression on Pat’s mind. It validated her own personal belief that good health does indeed lead to a happier and more fulfilling life – and for Pat, this is what dance does, it brings together the essential elements of creativity, expression and wellbeing which gives her a sense of profound joy and contentment.
Destined to dance
Pat fondly recalled growing up in a home with parents who loved the arts. Her mother was an avid fan of ballet and opera and her father, influenced by his Indian culture also loved Indian Classical music. From a very young age Pat discovered that she too loved to sing and dance. She knew that she wanted to become a performer. Armed with steely determination, Pat began taking dance lessons and soon realised that this was her calling. Today, Pat who is a professional dancer heads a team of qualified dance instructors and also teaches dance and yoga at her studio in Kiarong. And somehow she still continues to find the time to enter regional dance competitions at the Amateur Professional Level – and to win! She attributes her success to “discipline, focus and endless hours of hard work”. However, she also admitted that her accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of her close knit family. Her husband of 24 years who appreciates the arts continues to encourage and support her career in dance. While her daughters have been influenced by her deep devotion to the arts as they are both currently following in her footsteps, one is pursuing a degree in Performing Arts, while the other is doing a degree in Film.
The art of teaching dance
This multitalented lady has also worked in Development and Copywriting for “Her World” magazine in Malaysia and as a paralegal for a law firm in Australia – but it was always dance that reignited the fire in her soul! Pat knows only too well that some people think that being a dance instructor is “not a very serious job”. However, she maintains that to be successful as a dance instructor “you have to have solid understanding of the body; an extensive knowledge of dance techniques; and you must be able to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life.” Pat opened Studio Scene in 2005 with the aim of “promoting dance as an art form and as a way to achieving a healthier lifestyle.” She wanted to provide the people of Brunei with a professionally run, well-equipped, safe, dance studio. Hence the reason she invested in quality Harlequin floors, so that students could practice dance in a safe environment. Pat also makes sure that all of her instructors are qualified professionals who are passionate about dance. They are encouraged to develop their skills by doing internationally recognised courses and exams, and visiting professionals also come to Brunei to teach new techniques. This is crucial to the success of her studio as some of her students take dance as part of their course work for the GCSE and A Level curriculum and some have even gone on to do degrees in Dance. Pat said that she “loves to see the joy that her students get from learning to dance”- and this is what continues to motivate her. She particularly loves teaching the teenagers as “they are at an age where they are at a cross road, they are finding their individuality and they have lots of enthusiasm and creativity.”
Recitals to Remember
From concept to costume, every aspect of Studio Scene’s recitals are thoroughly thought out and well researched. It takes one year to plan a recital and Pat helps to manage, supervise and coordinate it all, making sure that each production is done to the highest standard. Pat explained that through the recitals her aim is not only to showcase her talented dancers, but more importantly, to expand their knowledge about dance and the arts; and to connect dance to current social issues. She said, “ For example in 2010 “Dancer’s Palette” focused on giving her students an understanding of famous artists from different time periods – from Medieval to Renaissance, Baroque and Classical, Modern and Contemporary. While back in 2008, “Cry of the Wild” was aimed at giving her students a better appreciation of global warming and the environment and its effects on animal life.”
Pat’s experience and enthusiasm for dance and teaching are highlighted in every Studio Scene production. Together with her dedicated team of instructors and hardworking students she makes sure that every Studios Scene recital is an unforgettable experience for everyone. Pat’s love for dance is unconditional -and she intends to share this gift with her students for many years to come.
So You Love to Dance? The good news is next year Studio Scene will be introducing two exciting new dance genres!