Interview with Collaborator, Joanna Dong

Interview with Collaborator, Joanna Dong

Joanna Dong

In collaboration with three dancers from varied backgrounds, Zihan conceived an interactive dance class with each of them, focusing on various topics: gender, race and sexuality. Being involved in the music and theatre industry for more than a decade, collaborating artist Joanna Dong is a Jazz singer and musical theatre actress. She has sung for various local events such as Mosaic Music Festival, Da:ns Festival, Baybeats, and Flipside. Being a passionate lover of jazz, she started dancing to jazz music before debuting as a jazz singer. Engagement intern Michelle Kee speaks to Joanna to find out more about her experience in 50/50 of 72-13.

Lindy Hop has always been very close to my heart

– Joanna Dong, Collaborator, 50/50


1 Tell us more about yourself.

I’ve been working professionally as a Jazz Singer and Musical Theatre Actress for a decade. In recent months, I’ve also ventured into TV documentary hosting – it’s surprisingly nice to be interviewed instead of doing the interviewing for a change!

2 What inspired you to be part of this series?

Lindy Hop has always been very close to my heart, but I never really managed to incorporate it into my larger body of work, aside from the occasional bit of social dancing at a few of my Jazz gigs. When Zihan pitched the idea to me, I leapt at the opportunity for myself and the local public to consider Lindy Hop more critically – I think the general perception is that it’s a kitschy, happy-ladida (for want of a better expression) dance that people do just for fun, and while that is not untrue, as with any context where people are intensely involved in an activity, it develops its own culture, normative rules, and social tensions.

3 Take us through the artistic process of conceptualising the lectures and classes.

Zihan and I began with conversations about ourselves and the dance. I’ve known him for more than a decade, and even though we’ve had countless fairly intimate physical interactions on the dance floor, that was the first time we had a deep, lengthy conversation, not just about the dance, but about ourselves. Isn’t that fascinating and quite profound? How we can hold someone in our arms a hundred times, and still hardly know them?

4 Can you share with us some of the challenges you face?

Our talks are emotional, as much as they are intellectual. It is undeniable that Lindy Hop changed our lives, yet it has taken us both so many years of practicing our respective crafts to finally approach this topic purposefully – that’s cathartic! There is so much we want to share that our greatest challenge is how to condense everything into the hour-long sessions.

5 What do you think audience-participants can bring back from this programme?

I’ll be blunt. Lindy Hop isn’t the easiest social dance to pick up – but it is terribly satisfying once you do. We hope for people to have a basic introduction to the actual footwork and mechanics of the dance, but more importantly, for participants to continue involving themselves in conversations about the universal themes of gender politics, cultural appropriation and sexuality that surround any form of social interaction.


Have you heard about the inspiration and artistic process behind this programme? Do find out more through the interview with TheatreWorks’ Associate Artist for 50/50, Loo Zihan!

Interview with Associate Artist, Loo Zihan

For more programme details on 50/50, visit here.

Interested in taking part in 50/50? Drop us an email at fifty50@theatreworks.org.sg or call us at 6737-7213 to reserve your place today!

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