When it comes to unique professions, mermaiding is up there! Syrena’s career began a decade ago when the mermaid movement was in its infancy around the world. She talks to ANZA about how she became involved and leads a tight-knit mermaid community on the island today.

Have you always been attracted to water?
Oh yes, I was that kid on beach holidays spending hours gazing out to sea. Water is such a fascinating medium because the rules of the world on land don’t apply. It can be an incredibly challenging element to work with, but also very liberating.

How did your mermaid life begin?
I started with performances – creating unique experiences for corporate and kids-centric scopes. I wanted to ignite a sense of wonder and awe for little ones. It was difficult at first, I’d get maybe one party booking a month and I felt like giving up, but after a few years I founded the Singapore Mermaid School.

Left: Syrena doing Singapore’s first live public tank performance on Orchard Road

What events do you do today?
They span a large spectrum. Besides kid-centric and corporate parties, I also do family events, events that are wholly on land, wholly in water, or a hybrid of both. I’ve been booked locally and internationally for conventions, private experiences, and masterclasses. Whatever you can imagine, I can probably help bring to life!

Any standout moments?
On the kids side of the business, I was booked by a rather fabulous lady to do a mermaid party for her two granddaughters. She proceeded to book me again for the next two years, after which she requested a private mermaid workshop for not just her granddaughters, but also herself!

On the corporate side I collaborated with the Singapore Zoo to create Singapore’s first mermaid aquarium performance for several years running. I also partnered with ION Orchard to devise Singapore’s first live public mermaid tank performance. It was pretty surreal seeing a tank being built for me in the middle of Orchard Road!

You recently hosted The Otherworld Ball …
It was the first in Asia and quite the spectacle: we had knights in doublets, warriors in full plate armour, fae maidens in wings, satyrs, faun, and mermaids. There’s another ball (theotherworldball.com) later this year.

Where do you source your mermaid tails from?
They are made by two of my dearest friends who helm Finfolk Productions. They’re made entirely of special effects-grade silicone, and custom-made to my measurements and preferred colour palette. I’m a bit of a tail addict and have the largest personal collection of silicone tails in the world. Each one weighs between 15 – 25kg.

Tell us about the rest of your look …
It helped to have a signature look when I started out, but these days I enjoy switching things up. Doing so many events and classes, I like to keep it fresh!
I often customise to my client’s brief, for example, at Chinese New Year I’ll go with more oriental-inspired pieces and my most elaborate and heaviest tail, the Koi Empress.

Syrena with students from Singapore Mermaid School

How does the breathing underwater work?
I wish I could breathe underwater! It requires a great deal of mental and physical discipline and this is what suspends disbelief for your audience. Many people ask me “Do you have breathing tubes somewhere?” or “Where’s your tank?” But it’s all just the power of the human body!

How long can you hold your breath?
I don’t time my ‘holds’ as that creates unnecessary pressure. The best happen when you’re in the moment, going with the flow and enjoying yourself (as much as one can do without oxygen!).

Tell us about the Singapore Mermaid School…
The Singapore Mermaid School opened in 2015. It came about very organically – people would watch my performances live or online, or read an interview and write in wanting to learn from me. When I founded the company I just wanted to impart the magic of mermaiding to people in a safe, structured and immersive way. Since its inception, it’s gained a following locally and internationally, and even had a mention on Netflix!

What classes do you teach?
It’s the first mermaid school in the world to offer a tiered syllabus for progressive learning. Each level has a specific focus which not only teaches physicality, but also theory. In true Syrena style, you learn about mermaid myths and legends around the world. There’s also a strong emphasis on community. I always say that people walk into class as strangers and emerge as each other’s bridesmaids … I’ve seen it happen more than once!

Who are your students?
To date, the Singapore Mermaid School has taught hundreds of students from all walks of life. Our youngest has been four years old, and our most senior 88 years old. We’ve had nurses, lawyers, teachers, homemakers, celebrities, and even royalty – anyone can be a mermaid if they put their heart to it.


“I have the largest personal collection of silicone tails in the world”

How do you see students evolve as they learn mermaid skills?
Mermaiding is transformative. For one, it’s a wonderful workout that’s easy on the joints. Core mobility is improved, your posture gets better, and you naturally grow more flexible as the basic mermaid undulation really gives you a good stretch.

When you become familiar with the amazing things your body can do in this hobby, you really get a boost of confidence. Suddenly you’re walking taller, feeling stronger and tighter, and feeling more at home in your skin. It’s also very freeing because we emphasise what your body can do, not what it looks like.

What type of person makes a good mermaid?
The beauty of it is anyone can be a mermaid! Age, gender, body shape, career, race – there is room for all to come as they are. For me, mermaiding starts with the inner self. Mermaids look out for the people around them and operate from a place of kindness, grace and love. If you’re doing that, you’re already a good mermaid in my book.

Are mermen welcome?
Mermen are welcome and beloved here! They’re a more elusive breed, so it’s always amazing when we get new mermen sign-ups. Our most recent Bronze Mermaids batch had three mermen sign up independently – an unprecedented number – and that’s an amazing step forward for the Singapore mermaid community. They’re incredibly brave for bucking stereotypes and diving into this world with us.

What’s next for you Syrena?
As well as working on releasing a small capsule collection of dresses, I’m currently writing a children’s book. It’s a whimsical read teaching the importance of creating a place where we – and others – can belong and feel appreciated no matter who we are.

See Syrena in action at her ongoing weekly show at Fish Pool, JW Marriott South Beach’s NCO Club, on Fridays and Saturdays, 6.30PM & 8.30PM.

All images: Joshfather Photography