HER entry into performing arts was fated. And Lorna Hoong hopes ‘Mirror’ will reveal that PWDs or no, everyone deserves to be happy.

 

When Lorna Hoong volunteered to help out at a theatre production  three years ago, she had not expected the life-changing experience that lay ahead. It was the start of her  journey in performing arts, a passion that led to the birth of a dance revelation.

Said Hoong: “I was attending a show in KLpac and they were distributing flyers – seeking volunteers for a production. I had no idea that this first step would lead me to Ms Kim Manri from Japan. I ended up volunteering for her in a  Malaysian/Japanese production in 2007 called Hutan Kenangan.”

As a backstage crew member, Hoong assisted the performers with physical disabilities  to get on and off stage. It was during this time that Hoong was inspired by the talent, passion and dedication of the performers.

She added: “They moved me and also taught me in many areas. After that performance, I had wanted to produce another work with them in mind… just that I don’t know when.”

It took Hoong two years before ‘Short + Sweet Dance Malaysia 2009’ came knocking.

Hoong saw this dance contest as an opportunity to test the reception of the public towards dancers with a difference and to sharpen her own choreography skill.

Hoong, who is now a dance student at the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Academy (Aswara), planned a dance performance around  Hafizul Aimi Roslan, 22, from the Industrial Training and Rehabilitation Centre in Bangi, and Wan Tiara Azira Ramli, 20, of the Spastic Centre in Petaling Jaya for ‘Short + Sweet’.

She roped in Aswara dance students Sufi Ashraf Mohd Azman, 19 and Christine Chew, 20, who play their “mirror images” in the presentation aptly titled ‘Mirror’.

 Christine ChewWan and Tiara Azira Ramli,both 20, played their “mirror images” in the presentation aptly titled 'Mirror'.
Christine ChewWan and Tiara Azira Ramli,both 20, played their “mirror images” in the presentation aptly titled ‘Mirror’.

The message behind ‘Mirror’ is simple. The fact is we are all the same with all the needs and requirements of a human being. We may be different in terms of our physicality yet deep down we mirror one another.

As the two pairs of dancers must be mirror images of one another, it was important that they worked well together.

Hoong recalled:  “I had Tiara and Aimi to start with. I had to find the right partners for them and it took me a year to find Sufi and Christine. When I brought them together, the initial reaction was fear. The dance students were afraid to hurt them initially especially during periods of vigorous dance movements.

Pictures of Sufi Ashraf Mohd Azman and Hafizul Aimi Roslan during the performance MIRROR
Sufi Ashraf Mohd Azman and Hafizul Aimi Roslan during the performance MIRROR

However, once the dancers got to know one another, it was fun and friendship all the way.

Now they are committed to one another and they have fun, joking and enjoying their sessions together.

Hoong said: “I’m glad we got positive feedback and ‘Mirror’ was selected among the top 10 pieces into the finals for the ‘Short + Sweet Dance’ festival and to top it up, we were invited to compete in Sydney during their ‘Short + Sweet’ festival this coming April and May.”

There are definitely challenges working with any dancers/performers, be they people with disabilities or otherwise. Yet all these are over shadowed once we see the heart and soul poured into the work.

Picture of Lorna Hoong
Lorna Hoong hopes ‘Mirror’ will reveal that PWDs or no, everyone deserves to be happy.

CHALLENGES VOL3 ISSUE2 2010 (Challenges Magazine is a journalism skills training project for persons with disabilities started in 2007)