Published on 26 April 2017

Photo: Tan Ngiap Heng

Dancer and choreographer Adele Goh’s lifelong affair with movement has taken her around the world and back.


A mother’s attempt to channel her young child’s abundant energy and kinesthetic curiosity resulted in a life of dance for Adele Goh. “My mother decided that ballet would harness all that spare energy into something useful,” Goh reminisces.

A shy child, learning ballet with the Singapore Ballet Academy gave the young Goh “freedom and a voice” to express herself. “Ballet makes me feel alive, and has the wonderful ability to hold together a spectrum of human experience and emotions within a single fleeting moment,” she shares.

Her years as a young student performing with the Singapore Dance Theatre gave her an insight into the life of a professional dancer. “On stage, I didn’t have to be Adele. I could be a mouse, a snowflake, a flower, a swan, a sylph. I had a deep sense from an early age that the thrill of technicality and virtuosity would be insufficient for me, and those characters that I got to inhabit on stage was the reason you had to learn to perfect your double pirouette or find your balance in a piqué arabesque.”

Pursuing her calling took her around the world, first to London, where she furthered her studies with the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, then performed with the Moving Visions Dance Company. Goh then trained and performed with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel. “I had a difficult time understanding where I belonged since I spent a part of my transition to early adulthood overseas,” she says. “I felt and still feel a strange sense of detachment from Singapore, though this internal confusion might make me precisely Singaporean. Dancing somehow helps me to reconcile my split identities.”

As with any artist, Goh finds her art evolving, the most significant of which was her transition from ballet dancer to currently identifying herself as a contemporary dancer. “Contemporary dance does not despise failure and it manages to function on its own terms, that is why I love what I do.”

Her feet are currently planted at Frontier Danceland, whose works have taken her around the world again, including France and Taiwan. In addition to dancing as a full-time company artist with the Singapore-based company, she has also ventured into choreography in recent years.

What’s next for this constantly evolving artist? “I’m interested in getting together with other like-minded artists to make art for desperately pragmatic Singapore and Singaporeans. Also, I hope to develop my own movement practice that will help enrich, or at least challenge, the approach and quality of dancing here.”

Sides 2017 by Frontier Danceland is on at the SOTA Studio Theatre from 12-13 May. Click here for more information and ticketing details.

Photo: Faye Tan
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