Unlike in certain cities where busking is the norm, you would be hard-pressed to find dancing on the streets of Singapore on any regular day ­– that is, unless you’re strolling down the hallways of SMU.

Just step into the school’s underground concourse. From dancers practicing their hip-hop moves by the escalator (where reflective glass doubles as a mirror) to coordinated swing dance flips at the T-Junction, it is undeniable that there is a wonderful vibrancy on this campus.

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Dancers at the T-Junction performing for an overwhelming audience

SMU Snapshots caught up with Shandy Tan, president of SMU Arts and Cultural Fraternity (SMU ACF), to find out what she thinks about this thriving arts culture. 

A world of opportunities

Shandy had her first taste of the school’s arts scene watching SMU Eurhythmix (fondly known as ‘Emix’) at the SMU Convocation, and later again at the annual CCA fair, Vivace.

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An Emix x Samba Masala showcase. Photo by Harold Koh

“I saw Emix perform and thought that it was very cool, and wanted to experience for myself what it’s like to perform on stage with a bunch of people. That was when I decided to audition for Emix.”

With no background in dance, Shandy was pleasantly surprised when she passed the audition. “They don’t just look at technique or skills. They also look for whether you really have the heart and a willingness to learn.” Grateful for this opportunity, she began to look for ways to give back to this community.

So, when elections for the arts camp organising committee rolled around, she signed up without haste and landed the role of marketing director. Shandy’s desire to give back only grew stronger as she began to understand role of SMU ACF in driving the school’s arts culture.

 

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SMU Arts Camp 2016, Shandy pictured fifth from left

The magical feeling

Shandy went on to lead EVE Arts Awards Night as vice chairperson and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. At this time, the thought of joining the SMU ACF executive committee began to form in her head. It seemed like the perfect platform that would allow her to do even more for the community and on a wider scale.

“I wanted to create the same arts experience for people, for them to experience what I felt. For me, it is that magical feeling that I had when I watched Emix perform for the first time. That eventually got me to start a new arts journey when I had never been in the arts before university. I want to duplicate this magical experience and share it with the SMU ACF cluster and community.”

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Shandy speaking at AIN. Photo by Capturefuse Photography

Bringing people together

During her term over the past year, Shandy has realised that beyond fulfilled goals and successful events, what matters most is the connection between people.

“This year, we came up with a new hashtag, #onefratonefam. We really want to encourage and create opportunities for various clubs to come together.”

Shandy fondly recalls the SMU ACF Valentine’s Day Welfare 2017.

“We run this drive every year, but it has never been part of our SMU ACF culture to hang out after the drive. So, this year, we did something different and used this event as a platform to bring people together.”

True enough, the valentine’s day welfare drive was like a big party where everyone was invited. There was food, games, live music by SMU Voix and even a photo booth.

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SMU Voix at the valentine’s day welfare drive. Photo by SMU ACF

“It was great to see the various SMU ACF club members across the different clubs mingle and get to hang out together. During our practices, we’re usually in our individual clubs, so there aren’t many chances for us to interact with other club members.”

Besides having more open communication and inter-club events, the quarterly gatherings were also freshened up with interactive segments where external speakers were invited to share more about their art experiences to inspire the various committees.

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SMU ACF valentine’s day welfare drive. Photo by SMU ACF

“Building this ‘one fraternity, one family’ culture has definitely been the most memorable part of the journey for me. I feel like we now have closer ties across clubs, and everyone is very committed and willing to involve themselves more… It’s also easier to talk to the different clubs now when they have to liaise with each other, and we see more inter-club collaborations.”

And the inter-club collaborations have certainly enriched the already thriving arts culture. For instance, SMU Symphonia and SMU Chinese Orchestra teamed up to combine showcases at SMU Arts Festival 2017, and an Emix and SMU Voix collaboration gave way to some a cappella and dance brilliance at Timeless 2017.

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An SMU Voix x Emix showcase. Photo by Harold Koh

Taking the arts to the city

Besides strengthening the fraternity, Shandy’s hope for the future of SMU ACF is that they will continue to build a vibrant arts presence in the city.

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SMU Arts Festival 2017. Photo by Capturefuse Photography

“‘City’ refers to, firstly, our city campus, SMU. It also refers to the city in the sense of this Bras Basah-Bugis precinct, which is Singapore’s arts and heritage district where you can find art and museum events happening regularly. Thirdly, we hope to reach out to the wider community that is Singapore city.”