Oasis of Line Dancing
Featuring: Yeo Yu Puay - versatile and energetic lady from Kuching, Malaysia
Yeo Yu Puay is one of the co-founders of Karar Line Dancing in Kuching, Malaysia. Kuching-born Yu Puay is a piano teacher by profession. She was trained in classical music from the age of nine and later left for a short stint in London under an Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) travel scholarship for teachers.
Yu Puay’s love affair with dance started in her early twenties when she took up Latin dancing. Unfortunately, her lessons were very much hampered by a recurring back injury which she sustained during her secondary school years. When her back injury finally healed, she took up jazz ballet under Lau Pern Yun until the latter migrated to Australia a few years later. A shingle infection in her ear, which badly affected her balance, almost put paid to her dancing in 2000. She found herself on the floor most of the time rather than on her feet because it was impossible for her to execute any turns at all. She was told that she would suffer from it for the rest of her life, but with determination, perseverance and prayers, she gives thanks to God that she can continue to enjoy dancing to this day.
Yu Puay was first introduced to line dancing by Alice Wright in 1999 from whom she took lessons. Because of her love for music, she loved the different genres of music used in line dancing and she was hooked! She now teaches five line dance classes of various levels per week including one for school students from 7 to 17 years of age. Her oldest student is almost 70 years old! She also does events and has worked in world music festivals in Kuching and Penang as well as jazz festivals in Miri and Genting. She also actively serves in different ministries in her church.
As co-founders of Karar Line Dancing, together with Alice Wright, Alice Gan and Patricia Au Yong, they formed the pioneer line-dancing group in Kuching in 2001. Alice Wright and Yu Puay are the main instructors with Patricia, Alice Gan and a few others assisting them.
Starting with a class of around ten dancers, Karar Line Dancing has grown to one of around a hundred-strong. Through this group, line dancing was introduced to the city of Kuching and there are now many line dancing groups there. With the support of their dancers and other line dancing friends from around the country and even overseas, they have successfully organized fund-raising events in Kuching in the last couple of years.
In 2010, Karar Line Dancing brought in Sobrielo Philip Gene from Singapore for a workshop/dinner and dance party to raise funds for Breakthrough, a non-profit organization that helps the very poor in Kuching to build houses, find jobs for the parents and give free tuition for their children.
Last year, Simon Ward from Australia helped to raise funds for D’Wira Child Care Centre – a centre that depends on the generosity of friends in their quest to use quality education (given almost free) to help the children in squatter areas in the city to break free from the poverty cycle.
This year, they will be bringing in Alison Johnstone (also from Australia) for another fund-raising event on 23rd June 2012. This year’s charity will be Habitat for Humanity. There are many people in Kuching without proper housing - some of them live in shacks or in houses with leaking roofs, no sanitation and other unthinkable conditions. Karar Line Dancing aims to raise funds for one family (through Habitat) to either help them build a house or to renovate their house into a more livable place, depending on the amount raised.
In the last couple of years, Yu Puay has started to be more active in choreographing line dances – her latest being “A Thousand Years” and “Shackles”.
To date, what brings her the most satisfaction from all this is the many friends that she has made through line dancing, both amongst her dancers (many of whom are now close friends of hers) as well as from all over the world (some of whom she has yet to meet in person). Her only regret is that because of her geographical location and her busy schedules, she is not able to attend a lot of wonderful line dance events in other parts of the country on a regular basis.
Thank you, Yu Puay.