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Adelene Stanley, Inala
Photo: Irving Kwok

We interview Singapore dancer Adelene Stanley of the West End Zulu ballet INALA

Are we human or are we dancer? The INALA dancer barres it all

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid

Singaporean dance star Adelene Stanley reps the Lion City in Grammy-nominated, West End Zulu ballet INALA from June 19 to 22 at the Sands Theatre. In this production, we see her pirouette and jeté effortlessly to the African-inspired rhythms with grace and poise. It’s apparent that her versatility in both classical and contemporary dances, as well as her ability to create ethereal movements with solid technique and the fluidity of her entire body, have garnered her the recognition she deserves.

It’s not a fluke either – the 23-year-old dancer has trained with the School of the Arts (SOTA) in Singapore and Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. “Those years of training taught me discipline, as well as a deeper understanding of the profession, making me the dancer I am today,” she says. It’s hard not to feel like proud parents ourselves as Adelene takes on the Singapore stage after having performed sold-out shows in the UK.

Her journey began at the School of the Arts (SOTA)
“I started my ballet and contemporary dance training at SOTA. I then got an arts scholarship from the National Arts Council (NAC), and left in my fourth year to pursue a full-time vocational training at Rambert School in London.” She was scouted at Rambert School “During my graduating year at Rambert School, Mark Baldwin (choreographer of INALA) was choreographing Rite Of Spring for the graduation piece in which I was the principal dancer. Based on his recommendation, Sisters Grimm offered me a contract to join INALA.”

She picks up choreography quick
“For INALA’s premiere in the Edinburgh International Festival, we were given four weeks of creation period and rehearsals beforehand. Four weeks is a short time but as professional dancers, we are trained to pick up choreography instantly. The subsequent rehearsals are for refining and pulling the entire production together.”

She performed in the presence of Prince William and Kate Middleton
“Doing the Royal Variety Show (a British televised variety show attended by senior members of the Royal Family) was no doubt the highlight of my career. The prestige that comes with the event was something I never even dreamt of. It was a privilege to share the stage with stars like Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, Shirley Bassey, Bette Midler, and Michael McIntyre.”

Adelene Stanley in INALA. Photo: Johan Persson

She shares the stage with Grammy Award-winners Soweto Gospel Choir in INALA
“The feeling is surreal – I cannot believe the situation I’m in sometimes. I’m very grateful for the opportunities, not just to perform but to even work with these legends, is something special.”

She’s thrilled (and a little bit nervous) about her first INALA show in Singapore
"I’m extremely excited for Singapore to see it! INALA has a special place in my heart. We toured Russia, Scotland and all over the UK with this show which was a massive hit. Am I nervous? Maybe a little. I’ve invested myself emotionally, physically and mentally in this show, so I hope people will like it but I’ll just let the magic of INALA speak for itself!"

She’s open to having her very own dance studio
"After INALA, I plan to continue freelancing in Singapore – performing, choreographing, movement directing, collaborating with other creatives and brands on projects. And perhaps, open a studio of my own!"

Her advice to aspiring dancers: be unapologetically yourself
"Don’t try to emulate other dancers. Show off your unique qualities. Be confident in yourself and what you do. When working, always be kind and positive!"

INALA debuts in Singapore at the Sands Theatre from June 19 to 22. Secure your tickets at Sistic or Marina Bay Sands, from $78 to $148.

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