Excuse me, what’s in your bag?

Published on 1 September 2018

By Huang Lijie

National University of Singapore (NUS) student Muhd Fahmi Hazmi, 24, is a restless go-getter. The third-year Malay Studies major juggles school, a part-time barista gig, and still finds time to dance.

He is a member of the Malay dance group, NUS Ilsa Tari. It is rooted in traditional Malay dance and the martial art of silat, but seeks to push the boundaries of creativity and modernity. The group will be performing on 7 and 8 September as part of the NUS Arts Festival.

We get Fahmi to open up to us about his life as a dancer – bag, warts and all.


What is in your dance rehearsal bag?

I use one bag for everything – my dance gear goes into the bag I use for school. I review our dance practice videos on my laptop to improve. My tumbler is usually filled with coffee – iced americano, four shots of espresso, for an energy boost. Our dance practices – twice a week – are from 7 to 10pm.

My dance practice shirt is from the NUS Arts Festival 2018 (theme: If We Dream). I wear knee guards during practice because I’m aging (laughs). The male dancers in Ilsa Tari do stunts, so the knee guards help.

I carry an inhaler for my asthma, in case it acts up. I’ve been asthmatic since young, but it’s not stopped me from being active, and I don’t use it often. I have band-aids because we dance without footwear and socks and I sometimes get blisters.



Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

The Ilsa Tari alumni have a tradition of buying bottled ginseng tonic drink for their juniors before a performance. About 15 min to showtime, us dancers will huddle, take a sip of the drink together, cringe (because of the bitter taste), and then do it.

What do you eat before a performance?

For the two weeks before a show, I don’t eat fast food and I drink only plain water or coffee, no sugary drinks. On the day of the performance, I will have a heavy breakfast. I am not particular about what I eat, I just have enough to feel full because I am usually too busy the rest of the day to eat a proper meal. But I might snack if friends in the group offer food – doughnuts, bread, ice-cream, anything goes.





Details about NUS Ilsa Tari’s show here.

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