Dalila Samad

The dancing queen

Article from the Sun daily (posted on 13 Feb 2019)

A CAREER in dance was not on Dalila Samad’s mind when she was studying for her A-Levels, and not after having already made plans to pursue a career in medicine.

However once the 26-year-old’s true passion was awakened, there was no stopping this young lady when she realised that dancing was what she wanted to do.

A graduate from Aswara (Akademi Seni Budaya Dan Warisan Kebangsaan), Dalila is currently attached to the ASK Dance Company. She performs regularly with both ASK and Aswara.

She also teaches dance classes regularly and helps to choreograph for children who are entering dance competitions.

Dalila has also branched out into acting in commercials and short films. She also recently auditioned for a major musical revival.

What made you decide that dance was your dream?

“I was really set on medicine, but maybe the stars re-aligned and I got exposed to dance at that time (She was studying at TAR college in Setapak).

“I signed up for a talentime audition [in] the dance category. The seniors and people I met during that time were all into dance. It opened a whole new network for me. I landed a gig as a [flash mob dancer], and that is when I met Aswara students.

“After sitting for my A-Levels I started thinking about what I really wanted to do. So I went for Aswara auditions.”

How did your parents react to this career switch?

“Not good, not good at all (laughs). They were just surprised. I have strong family support, so even though I did not want to study medicine, I was advised that the medical field was so broad and there were many things I could do.

“My mother actually took me around a hospital and showed me different departments like psychotherapy, dermatology and [so on]. My grandmother really wanted me to become a doctor, but I really wasn’t feeling it.”

Did you ever take up dance before?

“I did, but informally. I enjoyed it. [I performed at] school concerts, or once a week outside a studio, doing hip hop and a bit of jazz when I was in high school. It was nothing serious, but I was consistent with my classes. It was a way to de-stress on the weekends. I was really really active with my dance club and theatre club in school.

“I only started formal training in Aswara.”

Is anybody in your family into the arts?

“They do it on the side. My mum was a gymnast and she even represented Malaysia at one point. My dad loves music and plays the guitar really well.”

What was it like to finally get formal dance training?

“I was a bit shocked but I enjoyed it very much. At Aswara we had to learn Malay, Chinese, Indian, contemporary, ballet and choreography, and on top of that the history of all the dances. For example, it was not just Malay dance in general, you have to specify [whether it is] folk or classical.

“I also learned [forms like] Mak Yong and Bangsawan. I really enjoyed it.”

Did learning traditional Malay dances connect you to your cultural roots?

“I was more proud of them than ever, I didn’t just fall in love with the form but the whole aesthetics.”

Do you have a favourite?

“I can’t really pick. I love all genres. I am the kind of person who likes to master everything.

“People [know me more for] styles like contemporary, but for me I need to work on all dance forms and only then will I be satisfied.”

Are you a starving artist?

“I am fortunate enough to work for a dance company that gives me monthly wages. I am probably earning half of what my brother is making, but I am content.”

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