Zumba® took Singapore by storm slightly over a decade back. What makes Zumba® so special is that it incorporates multiple dance genres from around the world. These include Colombian dance, Soca, South American dances such as Meringue and Samba and even Copoeira (Brazilian Martial Arts).
Zumba® was the result of a “happy mistake” – when dance choreographer and fitness instructor Alberto “Beto” Perez was on his way to teach an aerobics class and realised he’d forgotten his music, he had to improvise and think on his feet. He therefore used the Salsa and Merengue playlist he had on him and improvised a class that was the perfect mix of dance and aerobics. It was a hit amongst his students and they requested for more. Hence the advent of Zumba®.
To commemorate International Dance Day, Features Editor, Angela May Tan, spoke with 39 year old Clemence Albert, professional Zumba® Instructor and Founder of Fitness Beatz, who gave up a stable career to pursue his passion for dance and fitness full time, to learn more about his journey.
SGLS: How and why did you enter the dance and fitness industry?
Clemence: I developed a keen interest in dance at a very young age. My earliest memories were of me mimicking Michael Jackson’s dance moves whilst watching his music videos. My dream of dancing professionally came to fruition when I entered the dance and media industry during my teenage years and performed regularly in shows at Mediacorp and actively participated in dance competitions and events.
SGLS: You were with the Singapore Armed Forces for many years. Tell us more about your journey?
Clemence: In 2001, I had a major transformation in my career when I signed on as a Regular in the Military to serve my nation. Due to work commitments and an extended overseas posting, I had to put my love for dance on the back burner. For 10 years, I barely danced due to work commitments but there was a void in my heart and I knew I wanted to go back to dancing again. However, I had gained a lot of weight by then and was a hefty 83kg. I knew that I had to do something about my weight or risk serious health issues. I then started the typical routine of running and working out at the gym but I was still constantly searching for a more appealing fitness programme to suit my needs and interest; one which involved dance and music.
SGLS: How did you discover Zumba?
Clemence: I discovered Zumba® through Beto Perez (Founder of Zumba® Program) and ZES Michael Thomas. It was like discovering the Holy Grail. My quest for the workout routine that suited me, was finally over. Zumba® fulfilled my needs: Dance, Music, Fitness, Fun and the many opportunities to network with like-minded individuals. I enrolled for a Zumba® Instructor Course and the rest, as they say, is history.
SGLS: Describe your day as a full time Zumba® Instructor.
Clemence: As a full time Zumba® dance instructor, my job is to ensure that I am well prepared before I enter the dance studio to teach. I work hard on creating unique and engaging choreographies for my students beforehand. This requires a lot of time, energy and practice. Ultimately, participants want to feel energised and walk away with a sense of accomplishment after an hour of intensive dancing. I teach classes daily, except Sundays, where I spend quality time with my family.
SGLS: Developing choreography is usually a challenge for dancers. What and who are your inspiration in the development of your choreo?
Clemence: The skills I developed earlier in my life as a professional dancer came in handy as I did most of the choreography. That experience became my lifesaver when I dived into teaching Zumba®. I studied different dance genres and utilised my knowledge and experience to develop choreography in line with them. These include, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Hip Hop, Belly Dance and more. I’d lost count of the total number of choreos I’d developed over the years but they are all my favourites and my students love them too!
Check out Clemence’s Zumba® and dance videos at:
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/clemence.albert.5
- Instagram handle: @clemence_zumba
Interview by Angela May Tan, Features Editor, SG Lifestyle.