Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Stage set for Tin Tan

SHE’s taking on the role of well-known stripper Rose Chan but she doesn’t dare ask her mother to attend her English musical stage debut in Rose Rose I Love You.

All of 29, Penang-born Tin Tan Chai Chen recalls her housewife-mother telling about a Chinese woman who strips. "I was only a child then and the message I got was that she didn't think it was a good thing at all," says this contemporary dancer in mainly the Chinese arts scene.

Rose Chan made headlines in the 50s and 60s for her daring cabaret act in the Klang Valley, before she died of cancer in 1987.
"There are some strip scenes of course but nothing outrageous. Still, I don't dare ask my mother to attend," adds Tin Tan with a laugh.

Presented by Integrated Expressions, the musical marks the 20th anniversary of Rose Chan's death.
Says Rose Rose's executive producer Ee Lai Cheng: "It is not a biography of her life but rather our version of her story."

The story follows the lives of a troupe of performers. Their nightly earnings are dictated by applause - the more they get, the more they earn. But the glamour of being an entertainer comes with a down side.

Directed by Low Ngai Yuen with music direction by Penny Low, Rose Rose I Love You is written by Yim Mei Choo and Low. Well-known fashion designer Melinda Looi designed costumes for the main characters.
Rose Rose I Love You also features Carmen Soo, Tony Eusoff, K.K. Wong, Maria Yasmin, Zalina Lee, Bella Rahim and The Stilletos, among others.

Tin Tan, now doing post-graduate dance studies at Universiti Malaya, says she was always keen on dance. At 16, she joined Penang Dance Station and trained under award-winning Loke Soh Kim (also the choreographer for Rose Rose) and Choo Tze Kuang.
"It was my brother who got me into this field. You may have heard of him, Ah Niu."
He is well known in China and Taiwan and is touted as the Timbaland of the Chinese music world.
"Ah Niu was already with Dance Station and dragged me there one day. At first he asked me to sing but I didn't like that. I didn't have the courage to sing in front of people. I preferred to dance," says the UTM technology management graduate.
"I got the degree because my father, a lorry driver, said to get a degree in anything. He didn't think dancing was a profession. So I did what he wanted first."

After graduation, Tin Tan worked as a professional dancer with Dua Space Dance Theatre in 2003 before joining the Kwang Tung Dance Troupe in 2005. Last year, she co-founded a children's theatre company called Little Eyes Play House and went on to play the main character in Little Mission Impossible, which was the company's first show staged in collaboration with Integrated Expressions.

"But for this musical, I need to sing as well as dance."

Says Ee of Tin Tan's voice: "Her singing is enough for the character."
And Tin Tan has to sing in English. "This will be hard. I am speaking to you in English but I think in Mandarin. For this musical, the other cast members have been very helpful with my pronunciation and understanding of the script.

"I am saying the words (in the script) but I can't feel them. I need to translate them into Mandarin and feel the words rather than remembering the lines alone. But I am practising all the time, and am getting better."
She adds that the musical will help break down barriers between English and Chinese theatre in Malaysia.
Says Ee: "There are few collaborations between the two at present. Dance styles are different, theatre styles are also different. Rose Rose could be a way forward."
Always up for a challenge, Tin Tan - who took up ballet at the age of 26 - says the musical is a chance for her to try different things.
She thinks Rose Chan is a "fantastic woman". "She didn't care about opinions, she did what she did to earn a living. I have learnt a lot from this character how to be stronger, how to be more daring. her dance style was also seductive, very showgirl. My dance training helped with those moves.

"Dancing is my hobby. I'm lucky to make it my profession too."


Shaina said...

Keep up the good work.