THEY danced and blew the audience away with their energy, but there was more to the performances by the Sunway Dance Club. In an effort to make the event more meaningful, the dance club donated half of the proceeds from “Synergy” to Beyond Borders Malaysia (BBM), a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the rights of refugees and stateless people in the country. As in past productions, the Sunway Dance Club has always donated half of their profits to causes such as orphanages and welfare homes. This is its sixth year since its first production in 2013. Club advisor Assoc Prof Dr Derek Ong said they chose BBM as the event’s beneficiary because the club wanted to support efforts to help in the resettlement of refugees. “We want to be part of this meaningful endeavour to help them and society as a whole. We want to be a club that creates a social impact,” he said. The club donated about RM1,000 to BBM.
The Latin dance was one of 11 genres presented at Sunway Dance Club’s concert titled Synergy. Beyond Borders founder Mahi Ramakrishnan said art is often used to speak truth to power. “It is a tool for resistance. It’s incredible therefore to see the Sunway Dance Club use performing arts as a means to support the refugee cause.” BBM also engages with lawmakers and works in collaboration with civil society organisations to lobby for the right of refugees and stateless persons to work.
As of August, there are some 177,690 refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. Of that number, 153,770 or 87%, are refugees from Myanmar. Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol. Refugees are considered undocumented migrants under the Immigration Act 1959/63 and are at risk of arrest, detention and deportation. The fundraising performance, which was held at Sunway College in Petaling Jaya, showcased 11 dance genres: breaking, contemporary, girlstyle, hip hop, house, K-pop, Latin, locking, popping, urban and voguing. Aside from that, the night was complemented with singing performances.
The concert was attended by about 800 people and capped with a synergetic dance finale that drew participation from the audience as was tradition at all Sunway Dance Club’s annual dance productions in the past.