Singapore pole dancers
Photography: Tom White
The back story
In Singapore, the government keeps a tight rein on society — anything deemed disruptive, ideas that challenge the status quo and even children’s books, can attract attention from the authorities. Before me and Tom started work on this story, three children’s books were banned for being perceived to promote homosexuality. There was an uproar. Similarly, a documentary called To Singapore, With Love was labeled a threat to national security. Then shisha tobacco got banned. In that context, any story can feel a bit dangerous.
Stories about Singapore focus on core themes such as state control and wealth. We wanted to tell a story which was slightly more provocative, showed a fun and empowered side to the city and offered a different perspective to the familiar image of a conservative nanny state.
We heard about a number of new dance studios which had opened up in Singapore. Collaborating with photojournalist Tom White we interviewed owners and dancers. Our visual story was commissioned by the Boston-based Global Post, and was syndicated to NBC News, one of the largest networks in the US.
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