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A pole above the rest

For 37-year old Maple Loo, it is never to late to go for your dreams. -NST

Sun, May 09, 2010
New Straits Times

SHE is 37, but as far as Maple Loo is concerned, it is never too late to go for your dreams.

A professional choreographer, dancer and judge of 8TV's Showdown 2010, Loo gets a kick out of dancing and performing.

Kuala Lumpur-born Loo, who spent her growing up years in Singapore, said that ever since she was a child she had always been interested in dancing. But her parents didn't think much of it.

As she had lived in Singapore until age 12, it was difficult for her to adapt to schooling life here when she returned to Malaysia.

"My education suffered a little. While in Singapore, I used Mandarin a lot and hardly spoke Malay. Imagine my predicament when I came back and had to continue my studies in a government school.

"I had less than six months to learn Bahasa Malaysia and like it or not, I had to dig deep just to get by. But in the end, I nailed it.

"Now, I think my Malay is better than my Mandarin!" said Loo, who is also owner of five restaurants, a dance studio and a resort.

She completed her studies successfully and by the time she turned 19, she pursued her interest in dancing.

"Except for a couple of short courses and casual dance classes, I never had any formal training. I learnt from working with professional choreographers and other dancers.

"I must add that when I decided to pursue dancing, I wasn't thinking of the money. In fact, I didn't think there was money to be made. I just did it for the fun of it."

Loo began taking dancing seriously between the age of 15 and 17.

"Then, I landed a job as a fitness instructor. At that time, aerobics was the fad so I jumped onto the bandwagon."

Then she met dancer/choreographer Linda Jasmin, who suggested that she join the famous Kit Kat Club.

"I was mentored by none other than Tiara Jacquelina. She was adamant that everyone tried their hand at everything and not just dancing. She encouraged us to sing, dance and act as well," said Loo, adding that she was very lucky to have such powerhouses behind her.

Indeed, Loo was not the only "star" to have come from Kit Kat Club.

"Kit Kat Club produced some of the best names in the industry such as Adibah Noor, Dee of Jangan Ketawa, Sofia Jane, Adlin Aman Ramli and France-based former model, Azah Aziz.

With Kit Kat Club, Loo performed at dinner shows and started to get noticed by other dance companies.

"I met other dancers and choreographers and received offers to work with them. But I only chose the best ones, like dance groups that exude style, classiness and tasteful costumes. I wouldn't be caught dead dancing to the tune of techno music for example!"

Married to Italian Federico Asaro for four years, Loo said not a week goes by without her indulging in body workouts. Thanks to her newly-opened dance studio called Bobbi's Pole Studio, Loo gets her weekly body workout there.

"The school is a franchise from Australia. It is very well-known and some of its pole champions have gone to work for Cirque Du Soleil. I teach pole-dancing several times a week and that has helped me stay in shape. I can't imagine life without dancing.

"I guess to a certain extent, I am a little bit selfish as I need to have certain things in my life or I will go insane!

"I love performing but these days, I don't perform as much as I used to as I have become increasingly busy."

Still, Loo does not have much to complain about. Since opening her new school, she has been busy teaching. After all, hers is one of the first few pole dancing schools in Malaysia.

"It's a first in Malaysia. The good thing about my school is that it is the only one that uses brass poles. It is of extremely good quality. You don't slide easily and it gives you a far better grip," she explained, adding that the school is designed make women feel better about themselves.

Asked if her siblings and parents are proud of her achievement, Loo smiled.

"Nobody in my family is musically inclined except for my dad who has his own band. It is called "Classic 66" and is made up of his school class mates. He plays the electric guitar.

"Well, given their early scepticism, my parents are proud of me, especially after they had seen me on telly. I think parents only wants the best for their children and mine were no exception."

Hosted by Fly.Fm's deejay Hafiz, Showdown 2010 airs every Wednesday at 9.30pm on 8TV. You can also catch the encore every Tuesday at 11.45pm.

Any tips for the contestants?

"This is like a dance school. They're going to learn so much. My advice? Take it and use it.

"Every single contestant here should walk out of the show a totally different animal!"

-New Straits Times

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