Kuik Swee Boon



A talented dancer and outstanding choreographer, Kuik Swee Boon (b. 1973, Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia–) is hailed as one of the local dance pioneers who revitalised the contemporary dance scene in Singapore. Kuik spent 10 years dancing for the Singapore Dance Theatre and five years with the prestigious Spanish dance troupe Compania Nacional de Danza. He currently helms his own company, The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company. Kuik was awarded the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council in 2007.1

Early years
Kuik is the 10th and second youngest child in his family. His interest in dance was triggered when he attended a dance class conducted at his secondary school in Malaysia.2


Kuik fought hard to overcome his family’s disapproval of his love for dance, and began his contemporary dance and ballet training under Tan Lian Ho3 of the Batu Pahat Dance Troupe in 1988. A year later, he toured Malaysia with the dance troupe as a part-time dancer.

In 1991, Kuik moved to Singapore to join the People’s Association Dance Company, where he caught the eye of the late Anthony Then, co-founder of the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT). Kuik soon became an apprentice at the SDT, where he received classical ballet training.4 He was eventually promoted to principal dancer and performed in many of the company’s full-length productions, including Giselle, The Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet.5

A turning point
Kuik is an admirer of world-famous Spanish dancer and choreographer Nacho Duato, who was the former artistic director of the prestigious Spanish dance troupe Compania Nacional de Danza (CND). When Duato was invited to perform at the Singapore Arts Festival in 2002, Kuik took the opportunity to ask him for a position in his company. Duato was so impressed with Kuik after an audition that he immediately invited Kuik to join CND as a dancer. Seeking to widen his horizons, Kuik accepted the offer, thus marking the end of his 10 formative years with the SDT.6


Kuik was CND’s first Asian male dancer and later its first Asian male principal dancer. The five years spent with the company greatly enhanced Kuik’s dance repertoire and experience. He went on numerous tours with the company and performed works by acclaimed choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek and Jiří Kylián.7

Kuik became more interested in global affairs while living in Madrid, Spain. During his time in the Spanish capital, Kuik witnessed numerous street protests, such as those against the Iraq war, which nudged his social conscience. His full-length dance piece Silence, which was first performed in 2007 and restaged in 2009, was inspired by his life in Madrid and the terrorist train bombings that rocked the city in 2004.8

Striding into choreography
After five years in Madrid, Kuik returned to Singapore in 2007 to share his insights and experience with young budding dancers and choreographers. Venturing into choreography, Kuik relished the opportunity to compose entire dance performances according to his vision.9


Kuik honed his choreography skills while working with some of the best choreographers in the world. In creating his works, Kuik draws inspiration from his personal life experiences and the various choreographers he has worked with. Kuik enjoyed great success with Somewhere… We Hear, his first locally choreographed dance piece since his move to Madrid. It was showcased as part of the Forward Moves dance performance during the Singapore Arts Festival in 2006.10

Another well-received work is As It Fades, which was performed at the Singapore Arts Festival in 2011. The dance piece, which pays tribute to Asian traditions and cultures, juxtaposes contemporary dance moves with Hainanese folk songs. It was praised as one of the best dance productions of 2011.11

T.H.E Dance Company
Upon Kuik’s return to Singapore, he founded The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company in 2008, and currently serves as its artistic director and principal choreographer.12 The company focuses on fusing Asian and local identities with Western dance techniques to create works that are influenced by contemporary and societal issues.13

Kuik strongly believes in nurturing the next generation of dancers and choreographers. As T.H.E’s artistic director he initiated T.H.E Emerging Choreographers in 2009, which has since developed into an annual platform for aspiring choreographers to hone their talents and showcase their works.14

Contact, an annual week-long dance festival initiated in 2010, is a testament to Kuik’s dedication towards creating opportunities for up-and-coming talents. The festival serves as a platform to develop budding Asian dancers, and to facilitate learning and exchange between dancers and dance enthusiasts.15

Since its inception, T.H.E has made a significant impact on the local and international dance scenes, having had the privilege of performing at various dance festivals in many countries.16 In 2007, T.H.E earned the honour of being the second local dance troupe after the SDT to perform at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.17

Family
Kuik is married to Silvia Yong, who is also a dancer. Previously from the Odyssey Dance Theatre,18 Yong is a full-time dancer and founding member of T.H.E. Dance Company.


Timeline
1988:
Began dance and ballet training under Tan Lian Ho.19

1991: Joined the People’s Association Dance Company, and then the Singapore Dance Theatre.20
1995: Represented Singapore at the 5th Asian Pacific Ballet Competition.
2002: Joined Spanish dance company Compania Nacional de Danza.21
2003: Nominated for the Benois De La Danse Award.22
2006: Choreographed Somewhere… We Hear for the Forward Moves dance performance staged during the Singapore Arts Festival.23
2007: Left Compania Nacional de Danza and returned to Singapore.24
2008: Founded The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company and received the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award.25


Author
Lee Xin Ying and Veronica Chee




References
1. Martin, M. (2009, August 18). Kuik on his feet. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Martin, M. (2009, August 18). Kuik on his feet. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Dass, F. (2000, January 13). A scintillating `Tete-a-tete'. The New Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from Google News website: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1309&dat=20000113&id=TJ1OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fBQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5555,6340791
4. Tan, S. E. (2002, August 23). Kuik on the move. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved November from NewspaperSG.
5. Dass, F. (2000, January 13). A scintillating `Tete-a-tete'. The New Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from Google News website: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1309&dat=20000113&id=TJ1OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fBQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5555,6340791
6. Cheong, J. (2007, October 11). Master of the dance. The Straits Times, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Cheong, J. (2007, October 11). Master of the dance. The Straits Times, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T.H.E Dance Company. (2013). About us: T.H.E. Human Element. Retrieved from T.H.E. Dance Company website: http://www.the-dancecompany.com/about-us
8. Tan, T. (2009, August 24). Silence speaks volumes. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Martin, M. (2009, August 18). Kuik on his feet. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Cheong, J. (2007, October 11). Master of the dance. The Straits Times, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. T.H.E Dance Company. (2013). Past Productions. Retrieved from T.H.E. Dance Company website: http://www.the-dancecompany.com/productions

; Cheong, J. (2006, June 12). Movers and shakers. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, T. (2011, December 25). Best & worst; dance. The Straits Times, Lifestyle. Retrieved from Factiva; Martin, M. (2011, May 19). Not fading away; new blood and an auntie take to the stage. Today. Retrieved from Factiva; Tan, T. (2011, May 23). Moving ode to loss. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva
12.
T.H.E Dance Company. (2013). About us: T.H.E. Human Element. Retrieved from T.H.E. Dance Company website: http://www.the-dancecompany.com/about-us
13. T.H.E Dance Company. (2013). About us. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from The Dance Company website: http://www.the-dancecompany.com/about-us
14. Tan, T. (2009, May 7). Check out my moves. The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Martin, M. (2011, November 10). Full Contact; contemporary dance fest opens up to student shows, and open mic dance for its second year. Today. Retrieved from Factiva.
16. T.H.E Dance Company. (2013). About us. Retrieved from T.H.E. Dance Company website: http://www.the-dancecompany.com/about-us
17. Martin, M. (2009, August 18). Kuik on his feet. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Tan, S. E. (2002, August 23). Kuik on the move. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved November from NewspaperSG.
19. Dass, F. (2000, January 13). A scintillating `Tete-a-tete'. The New Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from Google News website: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1309&dat=20000113&id=TJ1OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fBQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5555,6340791
20. Tan, S. E. (2002, August 23). Kuik on the move. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved November from NewspaperSG.
21. Cheah, U. H. (2002, August 23). SDT-trained dancer to join Spanish troupe. The Business Times. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. T.H.E Dance Company. (2013). About us: T.H.E. Human Element. Retrieved from T.H.E. Dance Company website: http://www.the-dancecompany.com/about-us
23. Shankari, U. (2009, May 1). Young choreographers make strides. The Business Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Martin, M. (2009, August 18). Kuik on his feet. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Martin, M. (2009, August 18). Kuik on his feet. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 21 June 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Biographies
Dancers
Artists

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2013.