Malaysia

Singapore ballet group says ‘shocked’ by KL ban

By Yow Hong Chieh
April 05, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — The Singapore Dance Theatre says it is shocked that it has been barred from performing here but denied the ban was due to “indecent costumes”, Singapore’s Straits Times reported today.

The dance company was scheduled to perform here this weekend but was forced to cancel its plans after failing to get approval from the Malaysian authorities.

Singapore Dance Theatre’s artistic director Janek Schergen said the news was a shock as licences for its ballets in Malaysia in the past two years have been given without a hitch.

While Schergen did not have exact figures, he said “a large part of the tickets were sold out” for the performance which was to have taken place at KLPac. Ticket holders have been refunded.

KLPac had applied for the licence on the troupe’s behalf but was told that permission had not been granted, with no reasons given.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that the Singaporean Dance Theatre had been denied a permit to perform here this weekend owing to their “indecent” costumes.

MyDance Alliance president Bilqis Hijjas said the decision by Puspal against the Singapore Dance Theatre performing at KLPac was “deplorable” and would hurt Malaysia’s reputation as a reliable host for cultural shows.

Puspal, or the Central Agency for the Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists, is under the purview of the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry headed by Datuk Seri Rais Yatim.

Bilqis said Puspal had approved dances featuring classical tutus before — even at government-run theatre Istana Budaya as late as this year — and asked why the agency was “so inconsistent” in applying its guidelines.

“KLPac, by comparison, is a private business on private ground, with paying audiences who were well aware of what they were coming to see, and not one of whom would have been distressed by the costumes,” she said.

But Schergen dismissed the discussions as speculation, noting that “The Nutcracker” was “one of the most respected, classic and family-friendly dances there are”.