Of Japanese Uncles, Centaurs, National Icons, Girls with Urns and a Tribute

That’s what I experienced when I visited the Festival Village of the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 on the opening day. Having attended the media preview and gotten sneak peeks at the performances, I have returned to see more and I was not disappointed.

Bridge Café Project

Originating from Japan’s Oyaji Cafés with the wait staff of Oyajis (Japanese for “uncles”), the Brige Café Project is the brainchild of leading Japanese dancer and choreographer Kim Itoh. It features a group of uncles dancing at regular intervals at the Festival Café specially set up at the Festival Village. The café houses Tully’s Coffee and Cold Stone Creamery, the latter of which should be a good respite in the hot and humid weather here.

The Festival Cafe which houses Tully's Coffee and Cold Stone Creamery, and regular performances of the Bridge Café Project.

Photos don’t really do justice to their performance, so here’s a short video clip which I’ve shot of their performance. The oyajis featured here are from Japan, and Kim Ito himself is also in the performance dressed as the pirate. It’s really impressive watching them dancing passionately and energetically despite their age.

The Bridge Café Project is performed every evening at regular intervals between 6:30pm to 9:30pm from now till 2 June.


During the media preview, I did not have the opportunity to watch this performance by the Théâtre du Centaure from France. Manolo Bez and Camille Galle expertly rode their horses, acting as centaurs in this performance which took us from the main stage of the festival village, to another section of the Esplanade Park and finally to the specially-built platform near the festival cafe. According to the official literature, it tells a story about the existence of mythical centaurs among us. Due to the low light levels, the performance is hard to shoot (no flash photography is allowed), and I ended up with a lot of spoilt shots. Here are the better ones.

Manolo Bez with a member of the audience at the main stage.
Camille Galle on her horse.
Manolo Bez performing at the main stage.
Manolo Bez performs at the main stage. I love the way the 2 shadows juxtapose with him and his horse.
Camille Galle and Manolo Bez at the platform specially built for FLUX.

FLUX is on from now till 23 May at 8:00pm.

XII – In Search of 13

I had a sneak peek of XII – In Search of 13 during the media preview and found it hilarious, so I returned for more. Twelve contenders vie to be the ultimate national icon amid a backdrop of myths, stories and drama.

The performance is a satire of the political and current affairs happening in Singapore, centering around the recent case of a PRC woman forbidding her Indian neighbour from cooking curry.

Some artistic freedom were applied, and the indian neighbour is represented by a Singaporean chinese auntie.The PRC woman has apparently sought the help of  Mr. Merlion (which supposedly represents the “iron fisted” government of Singapore) who had ruled in her favour.

So, to give the curry-cooking woman a help line, several national icons were to be selected to fight with Mr. Merlion in the wrestling ring, to win back the curry pot which he has claimed, to give the curry woman some justice.

This time round, the National Icon chosen was the Samsui Woman, who gave us a wonderfully hilarious performance where she almost beat Mr. Merlion, but alas, that was not to be.

Mr. Merlion gives a spray of water towards the audience.
Samsui Woman slams Mr. Merlion to the ground. But alas, the victory did not last.
Samsui Woman (temporarily) subdues Mr. Merlion.

I’ve also shot some video excerpts from the performance which you can watch here. It’s one of the most hilarious performances at the Arts Festival.

Dream Country – A Lost Monologue

Originally called Urn Piece and created for only 3 performers, this performance was inspired by Dream Country, a monologue written by Malaysian playwright Leow Puay Tin. The dance presents images of birth, life and death.

Marion, the creator of Urn Piece, was inspired by the imagery of water in the monologue and wanted to create the wetness on stage. She eventually had an image formed of a head emerging from an urn.

For the Arts Festival, Marion worked together with 5 other directors and 35 women aged from 17 – 58 years of age to meld together different artistic ideas and experiences.

Dream Country – A Lost Monologue was supposed to start on 31 May, but I ran into their rehearsal and saw the girls appearing to have fun splashing water at each other, moving in and out of the urn in smooth dance moves or cleaning their urns with big pieces of cloth and took some pictures.

A scene from Dream Country - A Lost Monologue
A scene from Dream Country - A Lost Monologue
A scene from Dream Country - A Lost Monologue

Dream Country – A Lost Monologue will run from 31 May to 1 June at 8pm.

Music Clinic

My last stop is at the Music Clinic’s performance. This is a tribute to the late Taiwanese singer Feng Fei Fei (风飞飞) who passed away on 3 Jan 2012. This is the only performance for the arts festival and it features several artists such as Peter Tan, Xuan Man, Yang Chuen Lian, Jeffrey Chung and Huang Biyan singing songs made famous by Feng Fei Fei.

Huang Biyan and Peter Tan singing a duet.
Jeffrey Chung, Huang Biyan and Peter Tan
Xuan Man

This has been a fun shoot and enjoyable evening despite the hot and humid weather. I’ll be back for more if time permits. Meanwhile, you can check out more photos I’ve shot at the village on my Flickr set.

For more information on the Singapore Arts Festival 2012, do visit their website.


1 comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *