Suhaili While Still Student


Malaysian Ministry of Art, Heritage and Culture Scholarship recipient
(Bachelor of Dance: Honours – University of Melbourne, Australia)

I have been dancing since I was four years old. That’s what happens when your mother owns a dance school. Being a ballet teacher, my mother had dreams for me to become a prima ballerina. As such, I was initially trained in classical ballet but I have since chosen to major in contemporary dance instead.

My parents chose to send me to Australia to pursue dance studies because its only an 8 hour flight from Malaysia. After careful surveying, I enrolled in the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS) as it offered a part dance and part academic education. I was the first Malaysian international student ever enrolled at VCASS. Upon graduation, I then enrolled in the Bachelor of Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Initially it was hard to leave my family to study in Australia. I had quite a big culture shock when I first got here but it has since subsided. It is a challenge to attend a university where one is not spoon fed. At the VCA, no one forces you to do anything. This has taught me to set goals and make things happen. However, that is not to say that dance studies at the VCA are easy. It is actually quite full on and requires a lot of dedication.

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Besides that, my studies here at the VCA have given me the opportunity to be more creative as we are encouraged to use the craziest things as inspiration for our dancing. I have also learnt to be more articulate in expressing my opinions and giving critiques. I would say that the VCA pushes you do the things you want to do and gives you the confidence to do it. In addition, Melbourne is a very encouraging place for young, independent artists.


In my free time, I do some commercial dancing for KAMI Performing Arts to earn some extra money. I am also involved with the Chunky Move Dance Company, the Bangarra Dance Company and the Odyssey Dance Company. As a dancer, it is important to be toned, so I do Pilates whenever I can to strengthen my back.

In terms of future plans, one of my goals is to get a position in the dance department of the Malaysian government and help establish a formal dance education for local dance students. There is little or no dance education available in Malaysia and even less of a dance scene. I would like to create a performing arts school in Malaysia and help Malaysians develop a higher appreciation for dance.

My advice for prospective dance students is if you really know this is what you want to do with your life then just go for it and have no regrets. In life, every little thing counts so make it worthwhile.