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Som Binte Mohamed Said

Part-Time Lecturer

Theatre

Qualification

Degree in Dance Anthropology,
The Performing Arts Faculty of Jakarta Arts Institution (IKJ), Jakarta, Indonesia

Biography

Dancer, diplomat and designer, Som Said is a dynamic cultural ambassador for Singapore who has thrilled international audiences with her choreography, costume designs and make-up artistry. Som Said, who received the Cultural Medallion in 1987, has been bringing Malay dance to an international audience since the 1970s. She won the ‘Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award 2009’ and holds a Degree in Dance Anthropology (Sarjana Seni - IKJ, Indonesia).

She studied ‘The Study of Asian Performing Arts in Contemporary Dance Creativity’ under her master, the late Bagong Kusudiarjo (PSBK) in 1983. In addition, Som was awarded the Study Course on Laban Notation in Solo, Indonesia (1989) and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore (1990).

Som was a dancer with Singapore’s National Dance Company since 1971 and a choreographer of Malay dance for television, festivals and parades since 1974. She is also a successful Malay entrepreneur. She regarded her roles as a costume designer and owner of Ratu Sari Bridal House - the first Malay wedding boutique in Singapore - as a ‘full-time career’ and her role as a Choreographer/Dancer/Artistic Director as a ‘full-time hobby’.

In reality, her boundless energy has resulted in successful parallel careers. Som Said received the Ministry of Community Development’s Cultural Medallion in 1987 for her contribution to Singapore dance and for her promotion of the Republic’s cultural exchange programmes. “Not only are the steps and gestures of Malay dance beautiful”, she enthuses, “but they are meaningful and they tell a story.”

Som received the Youth Service Award in 1979, and in 1992, she received her ‘Pingat Bakti Masyarakat’ (PBM) Award from the President of Singapore on Singapore’s 27th National Day. Since 1972, Som has represented Singapore overseas. She is currently a choreographer for ‘Instant Asia’, a dramatic dance presentation of Singapore’s diverse cultural heritage. Som has travelled to Russia, Athens, Cairo, Dubai, New Delhi, West Germany, Nepal, Milan, New Zealand, Korea, Vancouver, Toronto, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Taiwan for the cultural promotion of Singapore.

In 1989, Som was selected to participate in the ‘Experts Media Tour’ to North America - Washington, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, New York, California, Los Angeles and Chicago to promote Singapore culture through interviews on radio, magazines and newspapers organized by the Singapore Tourism Board. Some of Som’s major works were for ASEAN dance festivals, cultural exchange programme and overseas promotions, as well as for local national events including Ali & Fatimah, Singapura Dilanggar Todak, Geylang Serai, Putri Gunung Ledang, Hidup, Bersanding Suite, Unity in Rhythm, Surprising Singapore, Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, My Country My Singapore, Kasih Ibu, Mari Mendaki, Norlela, Determination and others.

In 1997, Som founded Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Limited to concentrate full-time on developing the performing arts scene in Singapore. With Som’s more than 40 years of successful experience in promoting, producing and directing dance as a full-time hobby with Sriwana, National Dance Company, People’s Association and Instant Asia, she is now leading enthusiastic creative people towards professionalism in a newly formed Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd.

Som has contributed in more than 30 productions; including Lagenda Tun Fatimah, Cultural Medallion Recipient Award (2005) and Lagenda Raden Mas (2008). She was also involved in many national and international events such as National Day Parade, ‘Grandest Asia’ Chingay, as well as the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2010. Som has also conducted workshops in Singapore and Germany for ‘The Lion King’ casts in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Som is now participating actively in the Exposure and Arts Experience Programmes conducted in primary and secondary schools in Singapore. These Arts Education Programmes are organized by the National Arts Council and supported by the Singapore Totalisator Board.

Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Limited is now a platform for professionalism in the arts. The company plays an expanded role in the promotion of culture and in arts education, focusing on children and youths. It aims to achieve greater professionalism and flexibility as well as to make arts accessible to all through Arts Education Programmes and Public Outreach Programmes.

Som’s Awards:

1979

Youth Service Awards

1980

Youthship Program

1987

NDC Long Service

1987

Cultural Medallion (Ministry of Community Development)

1990

Japan (Min onn Arts Award)

1992

National Day Award, Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (PBM)

2001

Publication of the book “People at the Peak” (The who’s who of Singapore)

2002

Cultural Medallion Special Edition Book

2004

World peace friendship award in International Folk Festival Agrigento Italy

2007

Anugerah Warisan Kencana (by Malay Heritage Centre)

2008

‘Our Hero’ - Arts Legend Mdm Som Said in conjunction with Singapore Heritage Festival 2008 (By National Heritage Board)

2009

Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award (Anugerah Jauhari)

2009

Awarded STCM Successful Entrepreneur 2009 recipient of Singapore Today Commemorative Magazine (Gold category)

2011

PPIS Volunteer Award