Written by: Shao Yu Jin
Edited by: Gerald Lim
Night of the Arts – Part II
The halls were alive, with the sound of music. The first half of the night was filled with songs; the PA system was busy amplifying the many talents on stage. We had barely had enough. But as the choir finished the final note of their concluding piece ‘Esta Tierra’, the lights were switched on and the curtains drawn. The cellophane lifted off the desserts and the paper plates broken out of their packages, and thus began that sweetly anxious time that comes with every cultural event – the intermission.
People sat and strategized the route towards the queue for food as the SCRC went first, and soon afterwards walked about with a plateful of bite-size treats looking for others to talk to and take selfies with. We all adhered to the same routine – swiftly moving from clique to clique, exchanging greetings, giving congratulations to the one who’d performed, and concluding the niceties and laughter with a photo of some sort. Time just flew by, and the emcees were presented with the arduous task of halting the social tango and bringing everyone back to their seats.
One of the best things about Night of The Arts is that you get to see your friends leave their usual self behind completely and transform into someone nigh unrecognisable on stage. And the KE Dance performances epitomises this. We, the audience, couldn’t help but shout their names in excitement as they dance whole-heartedly. The name ‘Zhao Ming’ was particularly loud. There was something quite spectacular about the dance performances. Maybe it was seeing familiar faces lost in the rhythm and melodies, or it could be the dancers’ abilities to move their bodies to the music in a manner that was so vigorous yet so incredibly relaxed. Some may have thought beforehand that it was only a hall production, but the choreography and execution exceeded expectations by miles. Erotic, full of swagger, beautiful, melancholy, all the right adjectives were evoked in us exactly as the dances intended.
The dances created a rather intense and emotional atmosphere. To balance that out, Chinese Drama presented two comedic mini-plays, ‘Card’ and ‘Robbery’. The first was a satirical study of the chilling indifference and inflexibility of the modern day Chinese community, and the latter more of a light-hearted (but well-written) laugh. Chinese people sometimes get the reputation of being really quiet and rather reserved. The actors absolutely blew that stereotype out of the water. What was impressive was not just the delivery, which was commendable in its own right (with different characters adopting distinct and spot-on regional accents) but the well-rehearsed physical comedy as well. The plays started out to little reaction in the audience, many of whom wore a confused and indifferent expression, but as they warmed up to the story, the plays found their footing and the funny began to take remarkable effect.
Still reliving the moments of the humorous banters between the characters, no break was to be had as Dance was back with a bang. This time, every last dancer was on stage, delivering a massive and impactful performance. Sweat on the dancers’ faces were glistening in the spotlight, the newly-bought party-lights filled the hall with flickering colours, complete with the now familiar name-shouting, catcalls and screams in the whistle register. Many in the audience had flowers at the ready, waiting for their special one to come off stage.
Next up, there was Wushu (i.e. Kung Fu). The CCA that has all the fancy moves in Kung Fu Panda and Kill Bill re-enacted and embodied. The few masters and their apprentices turned and swirled with their knives and swords, specially made for Kung Fu showcase so they make that martial art sound effect we all love in the movies. And there was the brilliantly choreographed fight between the spear and the knives, which really livened up the atmosphere.
So far, the second half of the night featured the many physical gifts of our residences, and it was only appropriate to conclude with a performance that presents the most daunting physical challenge of them all – from our hall’s very own cheerleading team, the KE Titans. It was really impressive that they were able to keep their expressions saturated with positive energy while having to complete so many difficult stunts. Tosses, basket-tosses, splits, back-flips, and a pyramid, the Titans’ routine had so much to wow the audience.
You could hear some people say “That’s all?” after the cheerleaders had cleared their mats. Amidst the ever-busy school life, NOTA was something that we all desperately needed, a precious opportunity to lose ourselves in the performing arts and forget all about deadlines and presentations. This was why many tried to cling on to the night by lingering on, even after the emcees said their goodbyes and disappeared behind the curtains.