THE TIGER GIRLS?

Southeast Asia Globe - - Whatever Happened To... - BY SEAN GLEE­SON

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,

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