ACV05: A Career on the Big Stage (Goh Seng Henk, Performer in West End Musicals, Part 1)
By Paul Tern
Seng Henk (instagram: @goseng) has been working and performing in the UK for the last 6 years. Born in Singapore, he was a competitive gymnast for 10 years before discovering his passion for the stage through theatre clubs in school. He danced professionally in Singapore for the next couple of years with Frontier Danceland and Re: Dance Theatre, as well as with entertainment companies White Noise Creations and SAF MDC. Thereafter, to expand his skillset, he pursued a degree in Musical Theatre at Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts in London. Upon graduation, he joined the original West End cast of Disney’s Aladdin in the Prince Edward Theatre London, performing and understudying the role of Iago, as well as acrobatic ensemble. He has just finished the International tour of Miss Saigon over the last 2 years having performed and understudied the lead role of The Engineer as well as Club owner, and as acrobatic ensemble.3 Things I learnedAs a professional dancer / artist, much of the day is self-directed and spent on self-improvement i.e. personal gym work, singing classes etc. ‘Your body is your business’; all this self-improvement work is meant to upgrade your skills and ‘develop your business’. Feeling inadequate and being self-critical is an almost unavoidable occupational hazard. As a performer, you're always looking in a mirror both literally and figuratively speaking. The feedback often seems to be personal and directed to you: ‘You didn’t sing well’; ‘You’re not dancing well’.Seng Henk’s advice? Forget quickly and learn to move on. After the audition, you can’t change what you’ve done, so there’s no point beating yourself up. Let it go and focus on the next thing. Acknowledge your flaws, acknowledge reality, and show them everything else you can do. (More on this in Part 2 of our interview) It is a privilege to be able to pursue this line of work. Seng Henk’s relative stable life circumstances gave him the platform to pursue this unconventional career without having to worry about other commitments. He also benefitted greatly from a school system that allowed him to explore this passion. Here are some references to the things we discussed:Frontier Danceland, LEAP programme - http://www.frontierdanceland.com/archives-album-main/LEAP/Re: Dance Theatre https://www.dance-web.org/re-dance-theatre/Rambert Dance School (London) https://www.rambertschool.org.uk/London Contemporary Dance School https://www.lcds.ac.uk/‘atas’ - (Singlish) Meaning sophisticated and classy with slight hints of being snobbish Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts http://bird-college.com/he-fe/Cunningham technique https://www.mercecunningham.org/the-work/cunningham-technique/Graham technique https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_techniqueRelease technique https://www.contemporary-dance.org/release-technique.htmlAkram Kahn http://www.akramkhancompany.net/Matthew Bourne https://new-adventures.net/profile/sir-matthew-bourne-obeAladdin - Disney Musical in London’s West End https://aladdinthemusical.co.uk/Miss Saigon (musical) - https://www.