Popping and locking away in style
A spectacular dancer, Kah Sing shares his unique journey in street dance.
Lock Alliance and Labelled Fresh dancer Lim Kah Sing is one of Singapore’s most decorated street dancers to date. He has won numerous awards in local and regional competitions, and has accumulated 10 years of experience teaching students and judging dance-offs.
In 2006, Kah Sing, then 15, decided to take up external dancing lessons three to four times a week, as he was impressed with his school’s Chinese dance troupe.
Prior to this, he was passionate about music and thought of picking up the saxophone or the drums. However, once he took up dancing, Kah Sing never looked back.
“One friend from Chinese dance taught me popping, so I got interested soon after. I took a lot of classes from a studio that offered an unlimited package – from hip to hop to jazz and then popping and locking,” explained Kah Sing, 25, who is currently a freelance dance instructor at Recognize Dance Studios.
Popping is a funky-style street dance based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the dancer’s body, while locking is about freezing movements in the midst of a fast-paced performance.
Dancing is not an easy form of art, as it requires a deeper understanding of your body’s different functions. You also need to sacrifice a lot of time to perfect your craft.
Kah Sing struggled to juggle both his studies and dance in his second year as a business student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Surprisingly, his second year proved to be his most memorable one in his dance career. In 2009, he represented Singapore in the Gatsby and R16 competitions in Japan and Korea respectively.
“I had a really bad year in my studies because my GPA was really low, but ironically, it was my best year in my dance career. I won every single competition I entered in,” said Kah Sing, who used to practice on a daily basis.
National service also left him with little time to do what he loves.
“In NS, I was in a physically demanding vocation that kept me away from dancing. I lost a lot of opportunities to teach in schools and join competitions, and I even thought of quitting dance at one point,” said Kah Sing, who was a third sergeant in the First Singapore Infantry Regiment.
However, Kah Sing worked harder by improving his fitness. He even went for runs and practised his pull-ups and push-ups after completing exhausting road marches at night.
Fortunately for Kah Sing, his girlfriend, Cheong Xin Ying, who is currently a hip hop instructor, helped him to find new opportunities to return to the dance scene. Apart from conducting workshops, he was also invited to judge competitions.
In 2014, Kah Sing bagged his biggest achievement to date. He won the 3v3 All Style Finals at Radikal Forze Jam, an international break-dancing competition held in collaboration with Radikal Forze Crew, pioneers of the break-dancing culture in Singapore.
His journey as a dancer has also taught him many life lessons from different walks of life, even from people from different countries.
“I once met a Spanish dancer who reminded me why I wanted to become a dancer. Dance gives me the power to make a change in the world, as joining competitions and getting my name known would help me to get opportunities to teach and judge, providing me the opportunity to share my views,” said the freelance dance instructor.
Now that he’s got his career back on track, Kah Sing wants to continue building a vibrant and local street dance community in Singapore, and to find a distinct style or identity for local dancers.
“I’m currently exploring what exactly is the Singapore identity, and what makes us different from overseas dancers. There’s this stereotype that other nationalities are better than us, but that’s not true at all,” said the experienced dancer.