Dance troupe withdraws from Chingay 2021 after criticism over tap dance segment

SINGAPORE – Local dance troupe Dance Spectrum International (DSI), which was slated to perform a tap dance segment in Chingay 2021, has decided not to participate in the annual celebrations.

This was announced on the PAssion Chingay Club Facebook page on Monday (Dec 28), after DSI’s segment drew criticism from netizens.

In a video of its dancers’ preparation for the celebrations shared by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Dec 11, the dancers were seen wearing tutus under their lion dance costumes.

A petition asking for the tap dance segment to be dropped from Chingay 2021 garnered over 1,200 signatures, with several supporters criticising the performance for being inappropriate and disrespectful of tradition.

DSI’s Facebook posts publicising the Zaobao article and a separate The Straits Times article also drew unhappy comments from netizens, with some calling the performance an insult to lion dance culture.

Some said the performance was “nonsense”, and one netizen went to the extent of calling for the dance troupe to shut down.

Ten dancers from DSI, aged between 14 to 30, were slated to perform in one of the six segments of Chingay 2021.

Their four-minute long routine would have been a first for the troupe, with a combination of tap dance and lion dance choreographed by its founder and director Sharon Liew.

DSI’s withdrawal from Chingay “is in consideration of the young dancers affected by cyber bullying”, the troupe said in a joint statement with the People’s Association (PA) and the Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation (SWDLDF).

The three parties had met separately to discuss concerns from key stakeholders, and tried to find ways to resolve the matter over the past week, it said.

“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.”

In the statement on Monday, PA and SWDLDF said: “We express our support and solidarity with DSI, and hope the young dancers affected will heal from the harm done to them.”

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