THE TIGER GIRLS?
Touted as Myanmar’s answer to the Spice Girls and a potent symbol of change in the country, the Tiger Girls made a huge splash in international media
around the turn of this decade. Following the inevitable split, four of the five are back and finally tasting local fame in a country now more equipped
to deal with their spirited ways THE ‘Girl Power' revolution came late to Myanmar, the audience wasn't ready when it arrived and by the time the country was prepared to embrace it, it was over.
It began when a Burmese man and an Australian woman crossed paths in Yangon eight years ago and quickly recognised a shared musical passion: Moe Kyaw was a music producer with a few local successes under his belt; Nicole May a dance teacher flitting about the city and doing volunteer work. It wasn't long before they were business partners.
Fifteen years had passed since a casting call in central London first brought together the Spice Girls, giving birth to the original ‘Girl Power' crusade, which turned out to be the biggest musical juggernaut of that decade, inspiring a legion of copycat acts across the world. Now it was Myanmar's turn.
Nearly 200 women showed up for the audition staged by May and Kyaw in early 2010; by day's end, there were five remaining. That week, Ah Moon, Htike Htike, Cha Cha, Wai Hnin and Kimi were taken to a makeshift studio in Yangon to begin a gruelling regimen of singing and dance training.
The Tiger Girls debuted three months later in Mandalay during the country's Thingyan festival, the annual bacchanal of teenage drinking and public water fights that heralds the Myanmar New Year. Their provocative dress prompted a hostile reception, though. According to a contemporary account by British journalist Rosalind Russell, the women were pelted with plastic water bottles and footwear.
Yet in the three years that followed, they became an international sensation – if not one that ever found a sizeable following in their own country. As Myanmar began its slow transition away from decades of military rule, the Tiger Girls became, in the eyes of foreign media,