Cosmo’s Fun Fearless Females: Melissa Quek, dancer/choreographer/teacher
While many artists teach as a source of steady income, Melissa, 31, takes as much pride in passing on her skills and knowledge to her students as she does in her stage performances. Many people question the viability of making a career out of the arts in Singapore but, for Melissa, the constant challenge of honing her craft – and helping her students at LASALLE College of the Arts do so – is what keeps her going.
How long have you been dancing?
Since I was in kindergarten! I was also fortunate to have gone to a primary school with a strong dance CCA; it was there that I established a good technical foundation in ballet. These days, I lean more towards contemporary dance.
What’s one milestone in your career that you’re particularly proud of?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I think one of the more significant moments of my career was when I realised that accolades alone weren’t enough to keep me going as an artist. I would rather have done something experimental – at the risk of it not being well-received – than to stick something safe. To grow as an artist, you need to be willing to challenge yourself, conceptions of the art form, and the audience.
What motivates you in your capacity as a teacher?
You know, the arts can be a selfish endeavour; the artist is usually focused on expressing him or herself but I’ve discovered that helping other people can also be a joy in itself. When you’re in the arts, you’re opening yourself up to criticism all the time, and it can be highly detrimental to your self-esteem. As a teacher, while I do critique my students’ work, I think it’s important to encourage them to keep going, too.
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