Monday, May 18, 2009

Ramli Ibrahim is the dynamic force in Malaysian theatre and possesses open-mindedness for both the Old and the New. Trained in classical ballet, modern dance and Indian classical dance, Ramli is a creator and a visionary in the arts who sees unity within the diversity of all of Sutra’s artistic endeavors. In Malaysia, Ramli is acclaimed as a pioneer dancer and choreographer of international standing in the major fields of dance that he has mastered - Bharatanatyam, Odissi as well as Contemporary Dance.

Below are some of the questions proposed in an interview with the corresponding answers by this magnificent dancer - certainly a treat for his fans (Don't forget take note of his birthday too!)

What made you take up dance as a career?
There is no particular point in time that I can refer to. It was always there in me. Even as a 3-year-old, I used to like to dance. I used to dance in the fields instead of was innate in me. I guess, even then there was the ‘entertainer’ in me. I’m a qualified mechanical engineer but I pursued dance alongside my academic activities. I learnt Malay folk dances and ballet and have performed with the Sydney Dance Company in Australia, New York, London and Europe. I learnt Bharatanatyam from Adyar K Lakshman and used to perform Indian classical dance under the name of Ramachandra! But when I saw the Odissi dance, I told myself, “Wow! This is an absolutely wonderful dance form”. My attraction towards Odissi as against the structured, too steeped in tradition Bharatanatyam prompted me to go to Puri and learn from a disciple of Guru Deba Prasad Das. But I soon found that I was not learning what I wanted to and became a direct student of Guru Deba Prasad Das.

What were your idols and guiding forces during the early stages of your career?
Picasso, Japanese poetry, books on myths and mysticism, works of Carl Gustav Jung, ….. I always ask people whom I have high regards in their fields to recommend me the 5 best books to read.

How tough was it for your dance company ‘Sutra’ to attain the sort of recognition and patronage that is so essential for the advancement of the arts?
Financially, my company Sutra has been totally unsupported since the beginning. It has taken years of hard work to bring Sutra to its current status. Now, no one can ignore us, as we have achieved recognition in Malaysia and abroad.

You are trained in classical, folk and contemporary dance styles. How do you strike a balance between them?
We learn various art forms and perform them as per our choreography. It is the critics who attempt to compartmentalise and put our style of presentation into various slots. In some items, the music may be Odissi like in ‘Pallavi’, but I have deconstructed it and given it a contemporary layering. We can define contemporary aesthetic now from an Asian point of view and not from a Euro - American stance.

What is your focus now at this stage of your career?
Choreography is and always will be my main focus. In the many beautiful Odissi dance items, I find scope to exercise my own choreographic interpretations unlike the structured Bharatanatyam items. All my Odissi productions are commissioned works. My contemporary choreography is influenced for instance by the performing arts genre like Makyong and Menora, Malay martial art form of Silat, besides Indian classical dance idioms. I am involved in a lot of networking and cross-genre work as I travel a lot and meet many artistes from different countries. The dance items that pertain to Sakuhachi reflect the meditative quality of music. In ‘Mukaiji Reibo’, a zen monk is on a punt adrift on a misty sea. He hears the mellow tones of a flute, played by Sakuhachi flautist Christopher Blasdel, and is drawn towards it. The story is of Japanese Buddhist origin but I take the point of embarkation from the divine flute player, which is Krishna himself.

How do you keep yourself fit? What advice do you give your dancers on fitness?
I dance all the time, I do yoga in the morning. I am moderate with my food. No overindulgence in food. I guess that keeps me generally fit. One of the things to keep myself relatively free from dance injuries is the good habit of warming up and preparing myself physically before a performance. I get livid if my dancers do not warm up. But people like Bala did not work out. Maybe their work then was not that strenuous. Eras change and an era reflects the society of the time. Time then was slower, life was slower. But now, if dancers do not take care of themselves, they will pay for it later. Problems in knees, ankles, hamstring, tummies…those who are interested in life, take care of themselves, or the Muse, your ‘shri’ will leave you.

What book are you working on at present?
For more than 9 years, I’m working on a book called MOVING BEINGS. I was awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Artiste in Malaysia in 1999. The thrust of the award is towards researching Malay shamanism. ‘Main Petri’ and ‘Makyong’ are 2 Malay traditional performing arts genre that also touch on shamanism and performance healing. Surprisingly, a lot of the archival material on it is not in Malaysia but abroad.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by anything in your dance career?
I’m overwhelmed by youth…the boundless energy….

What’s your birth date?
20th May.

What do you do for relaxation?
I do a lot of things. I love to work in the garden. I cook. I paint. I have 2 dogs and 2 cats. I like to nurture things. I’m a nurturer. And I love teaching. I think I make a very good teacher. I sometimes see maybe a not so very good-looking dancer, maybe a not that graceful body, but I can spot his / her latent talent waiting to be extracted, to express itself…I want to nurture that talent. We have recently decorated the Sutra premises with some extraordinary furniture. Our technical director Sivarajah Natarajan and I collected blocks of old timbers around and we were stimulated to create furniture with original designs as we perceived it in those timber pieces and we now have some exquisite furniture.
You say you love teaching. What kind of a guru are you?
I don’t like people diving at my feet! Whatever you do, you must start with a pure inner heart, not just an outward ritualistic show. When it comes to a performance or class, it they don’t come up to expectations or make me wait, they get hell from me. That’s the guru in me. If you do not have respect for your art or for your parents’ money, why are you wasting my time and yours? That’s why we have performed very few arangetrams. We do not recommend arangetrams unless the student is serious about making dance a very important part of his / her life. Otherwise, it has no relevance. For a lot of students, arangetram is the beginning of an end. Most of them start a kitchen class. Too many mediocre teachers and dancers around. Over popularizing Bharatanatyam has resulted in this.

Cool! More details about Ramli Ibrahim can be read by simply clicking on the URL below.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

POSTING 6 - Questionnaire on Bloggionnaire (SKBP 1023)

Finally, the students of SKBP 1023 are required to complete a survey on blogging and its impact on us. Below are the questions put forward by our lecturers. I have attempted to answer these questions earnestly and hope to carry my views across.

Age: 21

Tutorial Group: Group 1

Lecturer: Assoc. Prof. Datin Dr. Norizan Abdul Razak

Q & A

(1) Do you enjoy blogging? If Yes or No please explain why.
Yes i certainly do because I have come to realise that blogging is the apt spot for a person like me to express my views and opinions frankly. Besides, I am open to comments and love the different ideas proposed by other bloggers.

(2) Based on your experience, what is the benefit of blogging?
To me, blogging has been a wonderful experience throughout my blogging days! Thus, I can hardly see the negative in blogging since I am blinded with the magnificent advantages of blogging. Blogging can be beneficial due to certain reasons such as:

  • Blogging allows one to express his/her views towards a certain topic openly.
  • Blogging improves ones writing skills thanks to the addiction of blogging.
  • Blogging reduces writing apprehension since most bloggers tend to be more welcoming to comments from other bloggers.
  • Blogging expands ones knowledge on various issues (Bloggers tend to be readers too right?)

(3) Do you need more assistance to set up your blog? If yes please explain on what aspect.

Yes as I definitely do not agree that I have mastered every feature available to set up my blog. Hence, I would love to explore more on widgets (web gadgets I assume) to further spice up my space! Furthermore, I would love to explore with the various themes and wallpapers available but dare not attempt to explore right now. I probably would explore further on this once the evaluation of my blog is completed.

(4) Do you have any memorable/favourite topic in your blog? If yes, please list which topic(s).

First and foremost, I would like to let somebody in on the facts that every moment spent with my web log has been memorable and a tale to share! However, there are few interesting topics that still keeps me wondering about, that is; my post 5 on concordance. I am simply impressed with this software and how it can be beneficial to linguist and other language/literature related fields. I am also sure to do a deeper study on this wonderful state-of-the-art.

(5) List 5 advantages of blogging to you.

  • Blogging tend to be a somewhat appropriate 'piece of paper' to jot down simply anything and everything. Hence, it improves ones writing skills due to extensive writing (After all, practice makes perfect right?).
  • Blogging allows enough room for improvement since there will be other bloggers waiting to comment and leave feedbacks.
  • One cannot possibly write without first doing enough reading. Hence, bloggers tend to eventually do a lot of reading from other sources before leaving in their point of view.
  • Blogging can be done in your own pace and in the comfort of your room as well. Hence, bloggers have ample of time to draft out, summarize or paraphrase their writings before publishing it.
  • Blogging is fast, instant and do not require too much procedures before publishing a written material (think about writing your opinion for the newspaper!).

(6) List 5 disadvantages of blogging.

  • Blogging can be done by just anyone which allows opportunity for controversial and offensive subjects to be discussed.
  • Bloggers, especially the young yuppies, tend to use a lot of 'SMS language' while blogging. Hence, there is hardly any space for improvement among these students.
  • Some bloggers tend to hide their true identity which does not reduce writing apprehension but instead increases these crisis.
  • The occurance of plagiarism is higher probably because bloggers tend to write on their own ideas and views without implying copyright conditions.
  • No internet, No blogging. In other words, blogging cannot be done without the help of internet services which makes it simply impossible for those who do not have access to the internet (especially citizens in the rural areas).

(7) Will you continue blogging after the course? If Yes or No please explain why.

Yes I would love to continue blogging even upon the completion of my course for the fact that I have finally discovered the magic of speaking through writing. I believe written words last longer than spoken words and will not fail to post more articles of mine through the aid of my blog.

(8) Do you think that blogging improve your writing?

Yes, to a certain extent.

(9) Do you think that we should continue with the activity of blogging for the next batch of students?

Yes, by all means.

(10) Will you recommend your friend to blog?

Yes and I have already recommended anyway.

(11) Can you teach your friend to set up his or her blog?

Yes, I believe I can.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Indian classical dance is a relatively new umbrella term for various codified art forms rooted in Natya, the sacred Hindu musical theatres styles, whose theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni (400 BC). These are:
Dances performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals were called Agama Nartanam. This was a spiritual dance form.
Dances performed in royal courts to the accompaniment of classical music were called Carnatakam. This was an intellectual art form.
Darbari Aattam form of dance appealed more to the commoners and it educated them about their religion, culture and social life. These dances were performed outside the temple precincts in the courtyards. - Wikipedia-

The world of Indian dance is rather wide, similar to its music. Since, it is tremendously extensive, I would best segregate it into two categories, that are, the North India Classical Dance and the South Indian Classical Dance.

Below are the examples of:

North Indian Classical Dance





South Indian Classical Dance

Bharata Natyam


Pulikali / Kadavukali


Mayilattam / Mayuri Nritya



At first, the term "concordance" sounded somewhat like Greek to me! Another funny thing that would make you laugh till you twist your belly is the fact that I assumed concordance as a type of "dance", since I am rather curious to explore various sorts of dance lately! However, after several attempts of analyzation and thorough reading, the whole idea of concordance finally hit into my head. Well, for those who are still unable to digest this term, below is the definition to it and its related terms.

Concordance: An alphabetical list of the words in a book or a set of books which also says where each word can be found and often how it is used.

Concordancer: A concordancer is a computer program that automatically constructs a concordance.

Concordancing: (Not a type of dance for sure!) but simply an act of concordance.

KWIC: KWIC is an acronym for Key Word In Context, the most common format for concordance lines.

A corpus: either just one text or a collection of texts.


In this scenario, most of us would relate this as to how a software like such could be helpful to teachers of languages. Well, here's why:

  • The teacher can use a concordancer to find examples of authentic usage to demonstrate features of vocabulary, typical collocations, a point of grammar or even the structure of a text

  • The teacher can generate exercises based on examples drawn from a variety of corpora, for example gap-filling exercises and tests.

  • Students can work out rules of grammar or usage and lexical features for themselves by searching for key words in context. Depending on their level, they can be invited to question some of the rules, based on their observation of patterns in authentic language.

  • Students can be more active in their vocabulary learning: depending on their level, they can be invited to discover new meanings, to observe habitual collocations, to relate words to syntax, or to be critical of dictionary entries.

  • Students can be invited to reflect on language use in general, based on their own explorations of a corpus of data, thus turning themselves into budding researchers.


Most may say that concordance is a tool in linguistics only, but the fact is when concordance is effectively implemented it can do much more than what is really assumed. Understanding and using concordance in a database will provide more comforts. Especially languages that are developing in computing field now can utilize this facility more effectively. More refined and object oriented tasks can be made by the use of concordance. General uses of a concordance are,

  • Comparing different usages of the same word

  • Analyzing keywords

  • Analyzing word frequencies

  • Finding and analyzing phrases and idioms

  • Creating indexes and word lists

Uses of Concordance in Language computing can vary largely. For example:

  • Developing tools for searching

  • Effective adoption of vocabulary

  • Developing a very effective database in regional languages

  • Very accurate and faster searching and listing of required.

  • Can change the methods of search engines in regional languages

  • Can be used in Machine Translation

  • Can be used in Spelling and Grammar tools as a back end

To my extent of knowledge, concordance has done wonders to reduce the burden of people who would wish to analyze a context word by word (these people I am referring to are mainly Linguists and others related to Language). In ancient times, one would probably have to anaylze word by word manually where he would have to analyze each and every word provided in a text. With the help of concordance softwares, now we are able to analyze a whole context (no matter how lengthy it may be) in a tick before a tock! For example, counting the frequency occurence of a word can be a real hassle (imagine a context of a thousand pages) but a concordance software can easily finish your job in a fraction of time. However, concordance can only analyze words and phrases that can be done grammatically, almost close to a word processor. The reasons of different usages of words, grammatical errors and probably other methods of study can only be performed by us humans. Hence, it can only help one analyze the occurence and not its characteristics (despite grammatically). The picture below may give one a clearer view of how exactly this software works.


Nevertheless, one can still download free versions of concordance softwares online such as antconc for a good explore of this software. Below is a link to concordancesoftware which allows us to download a free version of concordance (Concorde 3.20 - the software in the image above). Once you are done downloading the software, simply click on file menu to attach a context of words and be surprised as to how this software can actually help us analyze words in depth. Also, do not fail to visit the links below to obtain more information on concordance, its benefits and how it really works! (The latter focuses on various topics that are related to concordance, mainly those related to language learning, language awareness, and activities on concordance).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Posting 4: A day at PNB Darby Park Hotel - E-Community National Seminar

I would certainly love to tale on the trip to PNB Darby Park Hotel for the “Seminar Kebangsaan E-Komuniti” with the main motive, that is, “Merapatkan Jurang Digital: Masyarakat Berpengetahuan, Model Malaysia”. Thus this seminar was held to diminish the digital gap between the citizens of Malaysia through E-learning. Hence, the presence of highly knowledgeable speakers from various backgrounds helped us open our views towards E-learning and the other related notions. I’ve chosen two very interesting topics spoken by these speakers which may be helpful to you readers as well!

TOPIC: Reducing Writing Apprehension Through Blogging Activities.
SPEAKER: Ms. Azianura Hani Shaari (UTM)
The issues to be considered: What are the factors that contribute to writing?
Apprehension writers may generally have negative attitudes and perceptions towards writing.

Symptoms: You may come across many people who fall into the category of writing apprehension. Below are the symptoms that you may notice in these individuals.
· Scared to write
· Hands cramp
· Hate writing
· Mental blocking problems
· Produce shorter essays and,
· Ideas hardly develop.

Contributing Factors: Though the symptoms may be fairly straight-forward, the contributing factors to these can be quite buried and implicit. Below are the contributing factors that glumly contribute to writing apprehension.
· Culture – Face saving: Though this may not be the similar to cause to people from other corners of the world, it certainly is for Malaysian citizens. This literally means that the people of this society find it difficult to accept comments and feedbacks from other people.
· Examination: The education system is rather exam-based. Hence, students do not get motivated to explore their talent and competence in writing but prepare themselves only for the written exams at the end of the day.
· Lack Confidence
Teachers’ Comments
· Proficiency Level
· Audience
· Lack Role Models

Fostering Positive Writing Attitudes through Blogging: Ms. Azianura concludes that blogging has the magic to cultivate positive writing attitudes through web logging. How? As stated below.
· Blogging increases involvement among passive students – Which means it actually provides room for direct participation in writing.
· Promotes brainstorming and Peer Review Activities.
· Face-saving
– Since most Malaysian students are particular about giving and receiving comments, blogging provides opportunity for one to accept comments without losing his/her face.
· Student-centered
· Huge audience
– Especially native speakers. Generates chances of improving since blogging allows students from other parts of the world (especially native speakers) to comment on the writer.
· Boost up confidence and motivation – I would not know if it works the same way for others but it sure does for me. Blogging constantly actually supplies enough boost for writing further confidently.

Thus, the conclusion made to this concept is that blogging is fairly reasonable to assume blogging as a new practical solution in minimizing fear or apprehension towards writing among the second language learners (THAT’S US!)

To me, blogging certainly is a way to reduce writing apprehension. There were many questions asked regarding this particular topic since it is rather applicable to most of us these days. Hence, there were many who felt that blogging may not be the right method as young bloggers may tend to use the SMS terms (short forms/ abbreviations). Thus, there may not be room for improvement. However, I argue on this remark since;

  • Blogging may not be the best solution to improve ones English Language competency but it certainly reduces writing apprehension through constant writing (After all, practice makes perfect right?) However, at the end of the day it all depends on the writers willingness to learn and progress in writing.

  • Bloggers tend to work behind the screen which means blogging actually hides your pretty face till you eventually get the hang of writing and get comfortable with all the feedbacks that come crawling to you. (Notice that the feedbacks start getting better because your writing is getting better!)

  • Furthermore, blogging may seem informal and too casual but it is important to remember that feedbacks tend to come not only from the locals, but from foreigners, such as native speakers as well. This undoubtedly improves ones writing skills as the feedbacks create room for blooming learners.

  • Bloggers who do a lot of writing will definitely do a lot of reading in time to come too! And reading brings many other benefits along with it.

TOPIC: The Use of Media and Digital Technology through E-Commerce.
SPEAKER: Mr. Khairul Afzan.

First, let me define the meaning between these letters, SME. SME basically means Small and Medium Enterprises.

This can be grouped into three categories; that is, Micro, Small or Medium.

These grouping on the other hand are based on either:
-the number of people a business employs or,
-on the total sales or revenue generated by a business in a year.

The concept of SMEs itself can be segregated into two different categories.

  1. Manufacturing Industries - E.g.: Usra Sdn. Bhd.

  2. Service Industries - E.g.: Homestay

The problems encountered:
· Lack of knowledge of the benefits of technology to their industries.
· Lack of confidence in the effectiveness of using E-commerce.
· Lack of capital.
· There is still digital divide in Malaysia that must be bridged.

Recommendations: Below are only a few suggestions that I find important.
· Government should provide broadband infrastructures throughout Malaysia (Rural, Urban and etc.)
· Universities should organize/develop programs to promote technologies to SMMEs.
· Information regarding cyber law should be spread.

Link: Visit the link below given by Mr. Khairul Afzan for further info.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


            Feeling stressed? Then why not kick up your heels to salsa or do the boogie-woogie? Fortunately, dance is known to be as an amazing solution for the most common health crisis today, that is, stress. Studies show that dance is an eternal stress reliever and carries many beneficial effects to the health of the human body. For instance, a massive amount of endorphin is discharged when one has a good round of dance. In result, the occurrence of wrinkles can be reduced to almost sixty three percent. This is also probably since you tend to grin and smile a lot more when you sway and swing to a desired tune. Furthermore, dancing enables most women to be stress-free because it physically keeps one occupied since most women fall towards the emotional region. Accordingly, dance transports an outstanding glow on ones skin that no skin product could possibly replace. So, ‘Do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around; that’s what it’s all about!’

-By: Sheelaa a/p Sundaralingam

Sunday, March 15, 2009

POSTING 3 - Start Your Search Engines!

Write and discuss the similarities and differences between search engines like mamma, google scholar, eric digest and yahoo.

This time, we students have been assigned to not only an educational task, but also a rather beneficial and handy task. Based on the lectures and guides given, I have explored various search engines and come to conclude that most search engines are alike. Instead of simply stating point-by-point, I would prefer to elaborate more by search engines. Hence, to start with;

1. : is a Meta search engine with a wide range of other web search engines for its results! Like the company’s saying, “The Mother Of All Search Engines”, certainly is the central to other search engines available on the net. However, practically speaking, most of us do not have all day to browse through search engines to other search engines. Thus, may require one to spend a lot of time browsing through these web engines before arriving to the final destination for results. However, one will be able to browse through the type of information looked for such as for WebPages, jobs, videos, shop, travel, yellow pages and white pages. Hence, the results obtained will be somewhat precise yet wide in choices.

2. : Not to be bias, is certainly a search engine I have always preferred. Given that there are ample of relevant reasons to support my stand on this search engine, I have decided to break my ideas to be more comprehensible. Below are the benefits available for those who may be new or still unfamiliar with this amazing gizmo.

a) Google as a SEARCH ENGINE: There are many ways you can narrow down your information to the exact information you are looking for. Hence, this expert search engine works simply professionally to help you narrow down your search!

-Quotation marks (“…”) = – to help on find the exact phrase in the information.
-Define: = - to help one find the definition of a particular word or phrase (works as an excellent dictionary!)
-filetype: = to help one find the actual file type looked for. (E.g.: filetype:pdf to find pdf files).
-ext: = similar as the search for specific file types and known as an extension operator.
-site: = works as a site operator.

b) Google as a CALCULATOR: Why download or install an electronic calculator when you can simply click on google to help you count your fingers for you.

-Currency Converter == to convert from one currency to another. (E.g.: 1myr in USD)
-Calculator = serves a similar role to an e-calculator.

c) Google NEWS: This wonderful state-of-the-art provides us with the latest news and happenings all over the world. Thus, you can now save money on those newspapers as well as the paper-cuts!

3. Unlike other search engines, Eric Digest falls more towards the educational background. For example, most of its links are designed for educational purposes such as Educational Journals, Eric Digest Lesson Plans, Classroom management, National Geographic and other related reasons. However, this search engine may not be as excellent when compared to google and mamma since it tend to be less helpful when concerning other entertainment cum educational based searches like images and videos.

4. Yahoo has been around from the early days of internet and appears as a famous search engine. Similar to google, it has other wonderful services such as games, downloads, emails, horoscopes, news, music and the list goes on. However, unlike the other search engines, yahoo has an advantage that may help those hazy ones look for the apt information. Well, the moment one starts keying in the word or phrase they wish to look for, the search bar drops a list of other suggested words and popular searches to look out for. Thus, there is hardly any spelling or sentence/phrase structural mistakes that one might commit during the process of searching. Most important, the layout is rather interesting with images and latest updates on events currently being updated on the webpage. Hence, there may be ample of coincidental learning via this webpage. (There is also a higher chance of one to get diverted from the actual information they are to look for!)

Thanks to the brilliant novelty of technology, we now do not have to flip through those bulky books to find a little piece of information. So, start your search engines and race your way through the web pages!