Mcebisi Bhayi

Mcebisi Bhayi

South African dancer-choreographer Mcebisi Bhayi first came to Rimbun Dahan on a residency with Singaporean choreographer Joey Chua. He returned to Malaysia for a short residency in September 2008, during which time he taught a workshop in Afro-contemporary dance to members of the local dance community.


McebisiBhayi was one of the three finalists of the Shell Road to Fame Talent Search in Johannesburg in 1995. In 1999 he participated in the Community Dance Teachers Training Programme at Moving Into Dance. Bhayi was a nominee for Most Promising Male Dancer in Contemporary Style at the FNB Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg in 2001. In 2002, Bhayi won the Peak of the Stepping Stones Award. He attended the FNB Dance Umbrella Young Choreographers’ Residency in 2007 and 2008. His works ‘Free Us Now’ and ‘Muntu’ were featured in FNB Dance Umbrella in 2007. He recently attended the Young Choreographers’ Residency in Senegal in March-June 2008. He performed in Gregory Maqoma’s ‘Skeleton Dry’ at FNB Dance Umbrella in 2008.


20 excited dancers filled the dance studio at Rimbun Dahan, to take part in Mcebisi’s Afro-contemporary dance workshop. It was an exhausting high-energy romp of furiously contracting rib-cages, cat-like leaps, and endless sequences. Mcebisi’s constant cheery exhortations — “Keep on pouncing!” — and fantastic accompaniment on the drums by Rimbun Dahan resident artist Justin Lim made it an experience to remember. Afro-Contemporary dance combines the spirit and technique of African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian and Contemporary dance styles. It is a grounded, rhythmic dance form with movements originating from the pelvis and core.

Photos below by Foo Chiwei.

Dance Day 2008

Dance Day 2008

Suhaili Ahmad Kamil and other Dance Day participants in Rathimala’s workshop.

Over twenty experienced dancers assembled in the dance studio at Rimbun Dahan on 1 May to celebrate International Dance Day with four workshops: Cunningham technique conducted by Yuka Tanaka, ballet performance skills by Kim Long, Shobana Jeyasingh repertoire by Radhimala, and Horton technique by Joey Chua.

From 9.30am to 5pm, the dancers sweated it out in the studio, trying a host of techniques that are rarely taught or practiced in Malaysia. They broke for lunch and a cooling-down session with dance videos in the underground gallery before returning to the studio.

Dance Day was free for all Balletbase dancers, and RM 50 for the day for all other participants.


Cunningham Technique, taught by Yuka Tanaka, 9.30-11am

Choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham has been a driving force in modern dance for over 50 years. His choreography introduced the idea that music and dance can be independent of each other. He also introduced the use of chance in developing choreographic phrases. Cunningham technique emphasises a strong sense of spine and the ability to quickly change direction.

Yuka Tanaka received her Bachelors (Hons) in contemporary dance from Laban in London, with an emphasis on Cunningham and Graham technique. In London, she worked with choreographer Lea Anderson and performed at the Soho Theatre. She has recently performed in Malaysia with Balletbase.

Above: Dance Day participant Cecilia Yong trying new movement in Rathimala's workshop.

Above: Dance Day participant Cecilia Yong trying new movement in Rathimala’s workshop.

Ballet performance skills, taught by Kim Long, 11.15am-12.45pm

Kim Long was trained in Australia and directed Kim’s School of Ballet in Ulu Klang for many years. She is much loved and respected by her previous students for her patience, personal attention and eye for developing the whole dancer. Kim Long will give a ballet class emphasising style and presentation, and the techniques of projecting to an audience. Kim is now a competitive golfer while teaching casual ballet classes at the International School of Kuala Lumpur.

Repertory class, taught by Rathimalar, 1.45-3.15pm

While Rathimalar is best known to Malaysians as a star dancer with Ramli Ibrahim’s Sutra Dance Theatre, she also worked for five years as a professional dancer for the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company. In her own work, she combines the Indian traditional styles of Bharata Natyam and Odissi with contemporary dance. She is currently making a duet work with Suhaili Ahmad Kamil for performance this July.

Horton Technique, taught by Joey Chua, 3.30-5pm

Above: Joey Chua conducting a workshop in Horton technique on Dance Day.

Above: Joey Chua conducting a workshop in Horton technique on Dance Day.

Horton technique was developed by American dance, choreographer and teacher Louis Horton in the 1940s and 50s, and is most visible today in the works of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Horton technique is based on anatomically-conscious corrective exercises and emphasises the use of flat backs and lateral stretches. It encourages the development of strong flexible dancers.

Joey Chua is a Singaporean choreographer who will be resident at Rimbun Dahan from April to July 2008. She will be creating a solo work to be performed as a work in progress in Kuala Lumpur in July. Joey studied dance at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and followed this with a Master in Arts (Research) at Queensland University of Technology. She has been involved in implementing dance curriculums in secondary schools in Singapore. Joey has recently participated in the 10th Seoul International Dance Festival 2007 and the FNB Dance Festival in Durban, South Africa.

Dance Day 2007

Dance Day 2007

DanceDay2On the 2 May holiday, dancers braved the heat to enjoy a day of dance workshops at the studio at Rimbun Dahan.

The day started with a release technique class by Rimbun Dahan resident choreographer¬†Donna Miranda. Balletbase dancer Yuka Tanaka, who has recently graduated from the Trinity Laban in London, followed up with a Martha Graham technique class. During lunch, Donna Miranda presented videos of her recent works and plans for upcoming work. Shaking off any afternoon lethargy, the Balletbase dancers sweated under Misato’s hip hop class. The final workshop was contact improvisation, presented by KL choreographer and dancer Low Shee Hoe, who was also the lighting designer of the last Balletbase show,Take Flight!.

Balletbase Dance Days are intended to introduce Balletbase dancers to different forms of dance and dance training, to broaden their experience and understanding of dance. The first Dance Day, with classes in yoga, release technique, performance skills and Isadora Duncan technique, took place in 2006. Dance Days are free for Balletbase dancers.