16 December, 2013 André Ahchak Mordernised Dikir Barat was part of the opening segment of the performance. (Photos by VOXSPORTS) A ROUSING ADIEU AND A JOYOUS WELCOME BY EXTRAORDINARY SINGAPOREANS Creativity, unlimited energy and sheer passion brought together some extraordinary Singaporeans to show off a high energy performance that will bring to a close - the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games. This performance is of great significance and will set the tone of things to come, as Singapore will take over as host nation of the 28th edition of the South East Asian Games in 2015. The performing group made up of Team Singapore athletes, students and working professionals dedicated months of rehearsals to put together a performance that is symbolic of diversity in unity, with the synergy of sport and the art form. Phillip Tan, Creative and Music Director Explaining the message of his creative piece for the Closing ceremony in Myanmar the internationally renowned Creative and Music Director, Phillip Tan said, ‘We want to move beyond the cultural experience. We want to have a balance between the music and the arts.’ ‘At the same time we want to appeal to the youngsters because SEA Games is not just for the older generation but it’s also for the younger generation and of course SEA Games is the only Games we send so many people. This year we have 308 participants. And this is where I think the whole country should come together to witness that – to celebrate that!’ Ashley Chua, Vocalist This bubbly 16 year old from School of the Arts (SOTA) effortlessly sang the finale with poise. Ashley who started singing when she was in primary four said her appreciation for music and opera helped her interpret the song which was written by Creative and Music Director Philip Tan. ‘It’s a very high energy performance – the whole performance is full of vibrancy and high energy so I just interpret it in a sense to complement the whole performance. I just get in the state of mind where what I want to do is actually command the audience - share with them the message that I want to share with them, and my message is Friendship’. Ashley is also very conscious that her parents have supported her through the rehearsals and many other times they were there for her. ‘I’m very thankful for that. They’ve been through this journey with me since I first started from the school choir (days) and they’ve always been with me. They were very happy that I actually got this. They said just go for it!’ Revealing that she was one of three vocalists SOTA nominated for the part, Ashley feels very fortunate that she ‘eventually landed the place’. ‘This whole journey has been really amazing. I’m just so excited for the main event (giggles) and I heard the stage is huge, the audience will be huge. Definitely a lot has been going through my mind – and it is just real excitement.’ Kang Rui Jie, Team Singapore Athlete, Taekwondo exponent and dancer He was a little shy to admit it but in the end Rui Jie revealed, ‘When the rehearsals first started off it was quite a challenge because we had to mix all the dance moves and taekwondo together. It’s quite fun but also challenging.’ The 18 year old who will compete in the individual and pair Taekwondo competition revealed that the experience of the performance and its rehearsals was a learning journey for him. ‘This is performance is not about me. The whole item is more important than me. I myself cannot run the whole show – so everybody must be together to run the whole show.’ Pua Jin Wen and Yong Kher Xin, Choreographers Singapore SOKA Association choreographers Jin Wen and Kher Xin were truly challenged when they had to bring to life the creative ideas of Creative Director Philip Tan. Jin Wen clearly remembers that his biggest dilemma was to fuse sports together with arts. ‘We took a lot of try outs to see if things could work out, whether things will flow – I think that’s the most challenging.’ What helped make things easier was that both choreographers were on the same wave length, but that still didn’t make it easy to put the dance movements together. Kher Xin noted that she had to do research. ‘We had to find out the basic moves of gymnastics, wushu as well as the Myanmar dance that was a part of the performance. Then we had to fuse traditional dance with hip-hop as well.’ Finding a balance between what the dancers and athletes needed to do and what could be done was in itself a balancing act. ‘The thing is to work around something that’s comfortable for them (dancers and athletes) to move around as well. Of course we don’t force them to do something they’re not comfortable with,’ revealed Jin Wen. Nur Atikah Nabilah, Gymnast and dancer Atikah was asked while she was judging a gymnastics competition - if she would like to be part in this performance for Myanmar. The gymnast needed no persuasion. ‘I said of course because there’s no gymnastics this year at the SEA Games, but I still wanted to be part of this year’s regional Games somehow. So if this is how I can be part of the Games then why not – I am really really excited.’ But dancing didn’t quite come to Atikah naturally – so she found out. ‘It was hard. But the dancers and the choreographers are really good and they’re forthcoming and that helps. So they helped me overcome my fears and I danced it out. It was very fun, very fun!’ This experience is important to the SEA Games gold medallist in Artistic Gymnastics. Unabashedly she declared, ‘Sorry I know it’s so clichéd but I’m so proud to be a Singaporean. I’m proud that I can actually showcase my gymnastics move and as a Singaporean Malay – I’m just very very proud – Singapore – so proud. I am blessed to be here and I’m glad they chose me.’ Raja Arshad, Team Singapore Athletes, Taekwondo exponent and dancer Going to the SEA Games for the first time, the 18 year old said the performing experience was all very new to him. ‘I do not have any background in dance. Having to work with the wushu and the gymnastics people – it’s really an amazing adventure for me. I find it very fun being with them and I like the company a lot.’ Controlling his laughter Raja said, ‘My biggest challenge was definitely the dancing part. I don’t know how to groove. It’s not in me sadly!’ Even as he’s looking forward to his competition matches, he doesn’t think the closing ceremony performance will distract him. ‘It actually calms me down and relaxes me. It doesn’t make me feel stressed,’ he smiled cheekily. Tracy Tan (top) and Yong Jing Yuan (bottom), Singapore SOKA Association Dancers Giggling throughout the interview the two girls could not hide their excitement. Jing Yuan who was a little more talkative said, ‘Although there are some challenges for us, this is a big scale event and for me personally I never had a chance to participate in any big scale event in the past, so this is one of the biggest challenges and we have to coordinate with a lot of people. Belonging to a dance crew that is used to dancing more to hiphop, both girls were very conscious of the fact that they would be ambassadors of Singapore when they go to Myanmar. It’s no more just a normal performance. We want to bring a message of peace, unity and warmth as we welcome all the athletes to come to Singapore in 2015 for the next SEA Games,’ said a reflective Tracy. RELATED STORIES: Catch live stream of 27th SEA Games 27th SEA Games Preview: Sounding the call of Lion City in Myanmar 27th SEA Games Closing Ceremony: All set for the extraordinary. Who will be the official mascot for 28th SEA Games Singapore 2015. Be sure to catch their performances at the 27th Southeast Asian Games closing ceremony. Watch it live on 22 Dec 2013, 7.30 pm (Singapore time) via our YouTube Channel.