NUS Dance Ensemble is a contemporary dance group that has earned wide recognition for their uncompromising and unconventional repertoire which incorporates ethnic elements from Asian dance fused seamlessly into dance styles such as contemporary, jazz and ballet.

Formed in 1992, the Ensemble aims to be a platform for young dancers and choreographers to gain exposure, while developing and honing their skills and techniques. Beyond that, DE seeks to re-define Asian contemporary dance with its strong grounding in tradition and culture, while remaining relevant and forward-looking, highlighting this distinctive dance style locally and abroad.

To that end, the Ensemble has collaborated with international dance companies such as the Hong Kong Dance Company, La Salle University Dance Company and Saint Benilde Romancon Dance Company in the Philippines, and has also been actively involved in outreach, participating in performances such as ITE Dance Emblazon (2015), and National Arts Council’s Got to Move (2015).

Key Past Events

  • 2012Concert Tour at Manila, Philippines
  • 2015Performance at National Arts Council’s Got To Move
  • 2016Performance at Macau International Youth Dance Festival
  • 2016Performance at Momentum, Republic Polytechnic’s Dance Festival
  • 2017NUS Arts Festival Opening Show Remember When...

Key Past Achievements

  • 2017Production of the Year, Tan Ean Kiam Arts Awards for NUS Arts Festival Opening Show Remember When...

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Zaini Mohammad Tahir

Artistic Director & Resident Choreographer

Zaini Mohammad Tahir started dancing at the age of 19 when he joined the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company as an artiste. Upon graduation from NUS, he continued pursuing his passion for the performing arts by working as a dancer and choreographer for projects in Japan, Germany, Canada, and the United States. His noteworthy performances include memorable parts in TheatreWorks’ original productions of Beauty World and Private Parts, and the role of Pouncival in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s world-touring musical CATS. His other choreographic/directorial works include Whole New World (Singapore Airlines, 1996), Reach (Singapore Airlines, 1998), Hearts over Heels (Singapore Airlines, 2001), Fight Fever (Singapore Airlines, 2004), Army Daze (Henderson Sec School, 2004), Macbeth (NUS Centre For the Arts, 2005), Aladdin (Wild Rice, 2004), Broadway Christmas Carol (The Arts House, 2005), CABARET (Toy Factory, 2006), The Magic Box at the Esplanade (2008) and Sleepless Town (Toy Factory, 2009). He also performed and choreographed the concert for Singapore Day in New York 2007 staged at New York’s Central Park. In the New Prague Dance Festival 2009, Zaini received two accolades: Special Personal Award from the Director and Best Choreography Award for Samsara, his work with the NUS Dance Ensemble. In 2010, he was awarded the Commendation Medal at the National Day Awards.

As Founder, Resident Choreographer and Artistic Director of NUS Dance Ensemble since 1992, Zaini has led the company of over 100 dancers to widespread acclaim and established the group as a promising contemporary dance ensemble, evident in their annual concerts ‘Next Wave’ (1995-2014) and ‘Evocation’ (2002-2016), as well as the NUS Centre For the Arts’ ‘Reflections’ (1995 – 2015). To date, he has choreographed over 100 works for the Ensemble. He has also led the Ensemble to numerous overseas performances including the ‘ASEAN University Cultural Forum’ (Yogyakarta, 2005 and Phnom Penh, 2007). Trained in ballet, jazz and contemporary dance, his choreographic style is deeply rooted in traditional Asian movement, bearing testimony to his classical Indonesian training at the Bagong Academy of Dance in Yogyakarta.