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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
The New Paper
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Secretary by day, belly dancing queen by night
by Kwok Kar Peng

SHE’S your typical Japanese woman – soft-spoken, modest and mild-mannered.
She even speaks with her hands folded neatly in her lap.

During the day, she’s Akiko Sueoka, a 31-year-old secretary to the president of a Japanese company here.

But almost every night, she transforms into Nadia – a gorgeous, sensuous and confident belly dancer who wins competitions and performs professionally.

Sueoka, who has lived in Singapore for five years, is the champion of the Singapore leg of the Asia Global Bellydance Competition 2010 that was held in June. As part of her prize, she was picked to perform at aYouth Olympic Games (YOG) event at the Nanyang Technological University on Aug 25.

She told The New Paper on Sunday recently: “I’m shy and not a very confident person. But when Nadia goes on the stage to perform and the music starts, my personality changes. “A special emotion comes over me and I feel like I’m coming down from the sky.”

Though Sueoka has learnt belly dancing for fouryears, Nadia came to life only last year.

It was when she emerged the first runner-up in the Asian leg of the Asia Global Bellydance Competition 2009.

She recalled: “I was so stressed before the competition that I cried a lot and had stomach pains. My teacher and my husband had high expectations of me. “When I compete, it’s not Akiko against the other competitors. It’s Akiko against Akiko.”

But with that win, she gained confidence.

She also came in third in the Asian leg of the Bellydance Star Solo Competition 2010, and now is booked for as many as 20 gigs a month.

She demands a lot from herself and spends six hours practising on weekdays and 10 hours on weekends. She performs two nights weekly – including a regular gg at a Persian restaurant at Carke Quay, and has little Time for her husband, who works in a trading company.

She jokes that he has “given up” on her. They do not have any children. Sueoka said: “He’s also busy with his work, baseball and golf. He respects mylife. On days that I’m not dancing, I cook a nice meal for him.

“He’s made a lot of sacrifices but he’s proud of me too.”She has a dance background in cheerleading, jazz and hip-hop.

While dancing was a hobby for her in the past, she said it’s now her life. Her local belly dance teacher Yuki Chua told The New Paper on Sunday that most of the dancers in Singapore perform the Egyptian style of belly dancing.

Sueoka’s style, on the other hand, is 70 per cent Turkish and 30 per cent Egyptian because she went to Turkey in May to learn from the teachers there.

“She can do the signature Turkish twirl 25 times without stopping, while flipping her hair at the same time,” said Ms Chua, 34.

The Egyptian style focuses on the movements in the lower part of the body, while the Turkish style concentrates on movements in the upper part of the body, especially the head and hands.

Sueoka hopes to start an all-Japanese belly dance troupe and wants to combine Japanese culture with the Middle Eastern dance.

She added that she’s thrilled about performing for the YOG.

“I just need to think about the stage and I feel excited already,” she said.
“Every morning when I wake up, I have a new idea for my performance. I get ideas too when I’m walking in the the street and eating.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m thinking of how I can improve myself.”

She is looking at incorporating Spanish and Broadway elements into her performance and may also use one of her favourite props, the Wings of Isis.


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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