Dancer with an honours degree

Dancer with an honours degree
Calvin Siew took the road less travelled and went into dancing despite having an honours degree in Life Sciences.

When Calvin Siew is gyrating and strutting onstage, not many would guess that he has an honours degree in life sciences.

His academic path is a pedigreed one: Chinese High, where he scored nine A1s and an A2, followed by Hwa Chong Junior College.

But he has such a passion for dancing that he decided to keep his degree in the drawer.

It is hard to say if he has his parents' blessings, he confesses. The 31-year-old has been at the job for more than seven years and they have not really discussed it.

Mr Siew explains, "I guess it is okay since it has been so long. And neither party has said anything about it."

He describes himself as a professional dancer-performer-instructor.

Add to that a perhaps lesser-known detail - stripper.

Not the full monty, just down to a pair of briefs.

He thinks his mother knows what he does, even though he has not told her the details.

It is quite a metamorphosis for a self-confessed geeky student whose father is a retired school teacher and discipline master. His mother is a private tutor.

Mr Siew describes his parents as "quite conservative", but they did not object when he took a short break after university.

He says, "I thought, why not give myself one or two years in this industry?

"I think it was when I was prepping for my final-year project that I realised I am not the kind who could sit inside a lab every day.

"I'd definitely 'feng diao' (go crazy in Mandarin)."

Four years after he graduated, Mr Siew went to Melbourne in 2012, to join professional dance school Patrick Studios Australia. He trained in ballet jazz and contemporary dancing for six months.

He was one of the few who were picked to perform at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2012.

Dancing offers him different levels of excitement, be it teaching kindergarten children or students as part of their enrichment programmes, or being a fitness instructor at the gym where he freelances.

Or he could get up close with celebrities such as Show Luo, Jolin Tsai and Pan Meichen.

Recently, he was one of the back-up dancers for Hong Kong actor-singer Alex To and local singer Cheryl Wee at the StarHub TVB Awards held at Marina Bay Sands.

A day later, he performed at the Shin Min-Wanbao Getai Awards.

Then, there are the stripping assignments. Mr Siew says, "I take them just for the money. (They pay) twice the money but half the effort (is required)."

Sometimes, he gets "molested" by women feasting on his well-toned physique.

"But it's all part of the job," he says.

He adds, "I also perform at gay clubs here, in Taiwan and in China."

He concedes that he does not know how long his shelf life is.

"Friends have told me that a dancer's life may be short-lived," he says.

"I have not given much thought to that, honestly.

"Right now, I am making enough to survive, to give to my parents and set aside for savings.

"And I'll keep dancing until I can't move agilely."

This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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