69-year-old will play Master of Ceremonies in charity ballet concert

69-year-old will play Master of Ceremonies in charity ballet concert
The Sylvia McCully School of Dancing will be having a concert to raise funds for cancer research. We will be focusing on Mr Peter Tan, the oldest performer at the age of 69, who was also a cancer survivor.

While most 69-year-olds keep themselves active and healthy through activities like walking and tai chi, retiree Peter Tan takes part in classical ballet performances.

He will be the oldest performer at a charity ballet presented by local dance school Sylvia McCully School of Dancing.

Mr Tan, who is single, will be playing the role of the Master of Ceremonies in the concert titled The Power of Dance, Music & Hope.

In a typical ballet performance, the Master of Ceremonies is in charge of calling the dancers onto the stage.

Ms Sylvia McCully, the principal and director of the school, said: "The Master of Ceremonies must not only have good poise, but he must know his musical cues as well."

Mr Tan's first foray into dance was as a primary school pupil when he danced in yearly concerts organised by his school.

He was not the only male dancer then. Still, he endured some teasing from his peers.

The retiree, who used to work in a bank, said: "Parents during my time did not really encourage their children to learn dancing.

"But my parents did not mind (me dancing), as long as it did not affect my studies."

All that teasing did not snuff out his interest in dance.

Mr Tan took up classical ballet lessons when he was in his 20s. For a while, he was even trained by local ballet pioneer, Madam Goh Lay Kuan.

He joined Ms McCully in 1977 as a dancer and has been with the school ever since. In 1999, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which led to a dancing hiatus lasting several months while he underwent treatment.

Mr Tan, who is now cancer-free, resumed dancing after recovery.

He said: "It was very difficult at the start, because my body was not used to such strenuous activities."

These days, he joins the stretching sessions at Ms McCully's school every week.

Mr Tan said his friends are always surprised when they find out about his interest in dance, which he does not hide.

"Some of them will actually ask me to teach them. So I give them some tips on singing and dancing."

Mr Tan, who is also passionate about singing, pointed out that society's perception on pursuing the arts has changed significantly since he was a child.

He said: "During my time, in the 1950s and 1960s, society did not encourage children to pursue arts-related interests.

"But it's very different right now. Parents will send their children for dance or music-related classes."

Mr Tan has been in many of the charity concerts that the school has put up.

He said: "The concerts have been very well received.

This time around, our main objective is to raise awareness for multiple myeloma and to also raise funds for the research."

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