Top Class
The Dancing Queen
KEVIN WONG | 10 Mar 2017 00:30
While most of us view dancing as bopping in a club, artistic dance is an art form where people use their bodies to express different ideas and emotions through the use of movements. Professional dancers have to work hard to stay fit as it’s a physically demanding art form but it’s also a very competitive profession with only a small percentage of dancers able to find a steady flow of paying jobs, which coincidentally requires them to walk through the gauntlet of attending auditions.

For Maybelline Wong, dancing has always been something instinctive instead of something she had to learn as she attempted to break into the dance scene from a very young age. She definitely has passion for it but little did she know that her passion would pave the way for her to be a professional dancer. In an interview with Top Class Wong shares about her experience as a professional dancer, her struggles along the way and her future goals.

Top Class: When did you find your passion for dance and how did you get your first break to jumpstart your career?
Wong: I found my love for dance at the age of 13 when I started dancing in church and from then, I knew dance would be a big part of my life. What jump started my career was a stint as a member of Mizz Nina’s dance crew. It was where I was groomed into the dancer that I am today. After my time with them ended, I continued to dance with other dancers, went for classes, taught classes and basically did anything dance related to make sure I was noticed. From there, people started hiring me for choreography work, projects and campaigns. Currently, I am heading the dance faculty at the School of Music Malaysia, which is conceptualised and owned by Sheikh Haikel and Joe Flizzow.

How would you describe what you do and what does your work entail?
I’m a dancer, first and foremost! Other than dancing, my job also requires me to choreograph for classes or performances, teach, attend rehearsals, and perform. I am also the go to person for talents and shows where I provide clients with entertainment services. Besides that, I do hosting jobs on the side.

What do you like about what you do for a living and what keeps you motivated to keep on doing what you do?
I love what I do because I love connecting myself with other dancers, music and movements when I dance. At the same time, I enjoy connecting with my students when I teach. I am very much a people person. What keeps me motivated is the fact that I am able to do what I love every day and be a source of positive energy for people around me, which is such a blessing because I love sharing my passion.

Describe a day in the life of Maybelline Wong

It varies depending on the project I’m involved in at that point as there really isn’t any proper schedule and structure in my line of work. However, if I do not have a busy morning, I would start off the day with either a workout session or attend a yoga class before dealing with work enquiries and paperwork. After lunch, I would continue with work or start planning out new choreography or projects.

Days when I have rehearsals in the morning or afternoon, I will just have to work around it to ensure things get done. My nights are usually occupied with teaching classes and sometimes late night rehearsals. At the end of the day, in this line of work, I just have to prioritise what I need to do and take it from there.

What did you study before deciding to become a professional dancer and did it help your career?
I graduated with a Public Relations and Communication degree. I wouldn’t say it’s vital but it helped me present myself as an artiste and service provider. The communication skills that I picked up have also helped me communicate better when I am teaching a class because now I know how to command the attention of my students.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a dancer? Are there also misconceptions about what you do?
There are many kinds of challenges that I face as a dancer. One of them is physical limitation especially when it comes to dealing with injuries and the wear and tear on my joints. I also face creative blocks that can be really frustrating but that is true of any creative art form. Another challenge is that since I do not have a proper work structure, I have to learn how to manage my time efficiently. Also, it’s true that many think dance is just fun and games. However, in order to stay relevant in this industry, dancers have to stay true to themselves through a lot hard work and commitment.

What has been your proudest moment as a professional dancer? 
In my journey, I have hit many milestones that are important to my career but the most up-to-date accomplishment would be having a dance cardio workshop with Adidas at Chin Woo Stadium in December 2016. Aside from the brand believing in me as a dancer and influencer, I was happy to have my Octopussy Dance Crew (ODC) crew mates there to support me and lead the crowd.

I was thankful that my students, Team Mayhem, were there rooting for me too and giving such great energy. Good vibes were bouncing back and forth from the stage to the audience and I was just beyond contented to be able to be in that position.

What are your goals for the future?
My dream is to be able to personally grow and to nurture and guide other dancers. I hope to reach a wider audience exposing them to more teachers and dance styles and want to organise more workshops and to connect with more dancers not just locally but also internationally. Another goal of mine is to pave the way for the next generation of dancers via ODC and Team Mayhem to do better than me. The end goal is for dance to make a difference in people’s lives. 

What advice would you offer someone considering this as a career?
Take classes, learn from other dancers, dance with people and never stop learning. Listen to music, react to what you like and build a deeper connection to it. Music will always be your teacher. At the same time, it’s important to be nice to people and have a good working attitude which will help carry you in your career. Lastly, treat your body well. Do workouts or stretches that can help strengthen your body and sustain your muscles if you want a long run as a dancer.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
There are far more aspects to dance or a dance career than what people see or think. Dance is not only a physical thing. We’re both athletes and artistes and we could also become a brand and business. It takes harmony in mind, body and soul to do what we do. It’s not an easy journey to get there but it is such a fulfilling one. 

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