How much would you do to be with your love? Tan Wen Da, a full time coach/instructor, and also a provider of exposure programmes and coaching services to schools in the field of Chinese Cultural Sports/Arts. He made his passion his life. Not only that, he married his love whom share the same passion, dragon and lion dance.
His wife, Cynthia, a civil engineer by work and qualification. During her free time, she spends time talking about lion dance with her husband. Both of them makes a matching couple, also termed the Dragon and Phoenix pair.
1. It’s interesting to see a husband and wife team. Did you both meet during a lion dance event? Can you tell us how you met?
Wen Da : Actually we met in an event somewhat related to Chinese Cultural Sports, many years back in 2002 during a Singapore Wushu Federation training programme. This programme is a centralized training programme for SanDa. SanDa is known as the practical form Wushu which involves sparring, and yes, we are very prone to ‘domestic violence’.
Jokes aside, my wife has been pursuing love for such cultural sports, Lion & Dragon Dance, as well as wushu & sanda since young with parental influence. However, all these were not known to me until the year 2010, eight entire years later when we started working together running school programmes.
While doing school events to share the cultural arts with young generation, we started exchanging ideas and knowledge of our own lion dance form and style. My wife’s enthusiasm in wanting to learn the ways and style of Zhou Jia Lion dance, where I am trained in, allowed me no peace even at home. With that, I took the opportunity to find out more about HeShan Lion dance, a style she is most familiar and trained in.
2. Since when did both of you started lion dancing? What do you like about lion dance?
Wen Da : As mentioned before, my wife started her love for the art with her dad. She went on to join the Pugilistic Society in the Junior College and followed through with the Alumni group. Myself, I started a CCA during my secondary school days and continued this activity well into my working live with Koon San Athletic Asssociation.
3. Both of you have a common interest. Do you still have arguments? How do you resolve?
Wen Da : Like all couple, Cynthia and I have our fair share of arguments and quarrels. With a common interest however, we do feel more strongly bonded with each other as we play more than just the role of a spouse to each other. Sometimes she becomes my lion dance buddy (my tail), others she is my annoying student that refuses to allow me to rest until she gets it right; when working together to choreograph a routine, she gives a different perspective and refreshing ideas.
I will not just call her my wife, but in fact, my significant other half.
4. What is it that you would like to do more to promote lion and dragon dance?
Wen Da : Currently, my company provides lion & dragon dance exposure courses as well as CCA training to schools. We hope that through these programmes we will be able get rid of old misconceptions the society have of Lion & Dragon Dancing, as well as its participants. We would like to allow the younger generations to have a better understanding of this art and hopefully make it their passion like we did.
We do hope to make such programmes popular among corporate organizations, encouraging organizations to do crash courses to put up their own lion dance performance as compared to just hiring troupes for performances.
5. What was the biggest challenge so far you have been through? How did you get over it?
Wen Da : One of the greatest challenges I have by far is to rid this art form of its social misconceptions. Many people still think that lion & dragon dance is only done by certain groups of people in society.
My programmes to schools have incorporated the message that lion dance is for all people from walks of life and for everyone. By far, most of the schools we approached are receptive of the idea but not all.
6. Any advise that you would like to give to the next generation?
Wen Da : Find your passion, find your interest and make it something that you keep to for the rest of your life. Never ever give up your passion for anything.