How 15-year old Sam discovered her passion for dance
15-year old homeschooler Samantha is the younger daughter of our friends KV and Wai Leng Soon. As Wai Leng writes, helping Sam discover her passion and watching her blossom has been an amazing journey. This is Sam’s story, as told to us by her mother Wai Leng.
SAM FINDS HER PASSION
By Chong Wai Leng
BEFORE SAM DISCOVERED STREET DANCING, she was a very different girl. There was a sense of internal restlessness – a feeling of deep dissatisfaction, as if, something was missing in her life. She was irritable, short-fused and often got into emotional drama over seemingly minor things. It was not an easy period for us all. We thought it was a phase she was going through, but it didn’t really subside as the years went by.
Not only was she dealing with her dyslexia – which was the reason why she had issues with reading and writing, it also explained her tantrums in the early years whenever she was pressed to do the things that she did not enjoy doing. She was also dealing with her emotional rivalry with elder sister, Amrita, who, in her eyes, was better, smarter and cleverer! Although we decided to homeschool the both of them, it was clear from the start that Sam’s learning style leaned towards the arts – drawing, music, dancing – and sports.
The girls were enrolled in violin, ballet, and art classes. They also took up competitive swimming. It was a busy period of driving them to the various classes, performances and competitions! But as time went by, Sam eventually dropped out of all of them as we later found out that she disliked the overly structured approaches to learning, even though she enjoyed the activities when she was doing them on her own. Sam slowly became quite withdrawn. She did not have many friends and she was growing restless by the day. And it didn’t help that she was also going through emotional and physical transitioning period of a teenager.
Then, like a magical solution sent from heaven, she discovered street dancing from a tv program called Showdown! That was about two years ago. I remember her pulling me excitedly to the tv exclaiming loudly, “That’s the kind of dancing I want to learn! That’s the one!”
As I watched the dancers do the flips and the flops and the twirls and the turns on their heads and their hands, I thought to myself, “Oh my! Is that dancing?” Well, I wasn’t about to argue with her about that but I had absolutely no idea where to find such a place, if there was one, that taught this kind of gravity-defying, energy-exploding, jaw-dropping kind of moves. Anyway, she was so keen on following Showdown! that she called in to the TV station and managed to get her free passes to get into KL Live Center to watch the semifinals and finals live! The crew Wakaka was her favorite and when they won the championship that year, she was overjoyed!
From then on, she kept on pestering me to find her a dance school that teaches street dancing. But I did not know where to start looking. Someone gave me a number, I called, but no answer. So I left it at that, secretly hoping that she would eventually stop pestering and forget about the whole dancing thing! But that did not happen. (what was I thinking!) She probably prayed hard because her prayer was answered – while walking at a business center near where we lived, she came across a big street dance poster put up by the Urban Groove Street Dance Academy – the academy that pioneered street dance training in Malaysia! And from then on, she has been dancing every night at the school, joining every class she could possibly get herself in, and learning all the different dances offered there – from whacking to locking to reggae to house to girl-style to hip hop. You name it, she can dance it! She was probably the most diligent student there as she could never get enough of dancing! “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life!” she declared.
This year, she returned to KL Live Center, not as a spectator, but a participant in the leading dance competition in the country – Showdown 2012 ! It was a dream come true for this 15-year-old!
Her dancing attracted the special mention of one of the judges, who said that “Samanta is a pretty good dancer. I like her style!” She endured the agonizing onset of chickenpox at the beginning of the competition and did the amazing thing – helping her crew get into the top 12 in a grueling 3-day preliminary round aptly called The Meltdown! for its intensity and unpredictability. At the time of writing, her crew, The Hype, managed to advance to the top 11 spot in the battle of the crews which is televised live every week on national TV! The Showdown has not only propelled her to stardom, it has also highlighted her story as an inspiration to other kids like her. If you have found your passion in life, nothing else matters.
As we reflect on these developments, it is undeniable that finding her passion was synonymous with finding herself. In her own words, she revealed, “I am happy now – I have found what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to dance, and be a choreographer and a dance instructor!”
The Sam today is a much more confident and happy child, because she has finally found her passion and her “tribe” – those who share her passion and who are just like her!
We all need to find our passions in life to be truly happy. We need to help our children find theirs even if it means being unconventional in outlook about what is important and what is not. All Sam wants to do is to dance. And we are merely fulfilling her wishes in constructing her future on the dance stage!
Postscript: The Hype was eliminated 16 May, 3rd week into the show. Sam won a scholarship to attend a 10-day hip-hop workshop in early June provided by Yes Academy!
About the author
Chong Wai Leng and her husband KV Soon are founders of Family Place and MALHEN (Malaysian Home Educators’ Network). Wai Leng has authored two books, “Life after Babies” (available free online via FamilyPlace) and “Learning Beyond Schooling” (Pelanduk, 2008). Her passion is in art, music and writing and have been actively helping students express and discover themselves through creativity. The Soons who are ardent unschooling advocates, have three children – Amrita (16), Samantha (15), and 8 year-old Arian. The Soons blog at Learning Beyond Schooling.
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