Behind the Curtain of Arts Fiesta 2022
CELEST THAM joins members of different arts and cultural co-curricular activities (CCAs) as they take a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Arts Fiesta 2022.
Arts Fiesta is an annual event organised with the purpose of inspiring students to discover their potential, showcasing their talents and partnering with professionals in the local arts scene. Photo courtesy of Edna Pang (top left), Goh Hui Teng, Sheryl (top right), Tham Yi Xuan, Lecia (bottom left) and Lucas Sim (bottom right).
Hype Issue #55
June 15, 2022
Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s (NP) Arts Fiesta started in 2011 with the aim to promote a culturally diverse and vibrant campus. However, it has entered the beginning of a new decade with something unprecedented – a hybrid fiesta. This fiesta, which showcased 17 different arts and cultural co-curricular activities (CCAs), took place both online and offline, from May 17 to May 28. The theme of NP Arts Fiesta 2022 was ‘Metamorphosis (a complete change)’.
“We need to be more adaptable to the evolving changes. It can be overwhelming, but you [know you] can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Mr John Lee, the advisor of NP’s Student Development Office (SDO) and the lead for this year’s Arts Fiesta on how the theme was selected. The SDO hopes that this will serve as a reminder to students on how “courage” and “perseverance” has trained them to “become mentally stronger” and thus “able to push forward” regardless of the challenges ahead.
With Singapore leaving the maelstrom of the global pandemic not too long ago, our lives have just regained a semblance of normalcy. The Covid-19 experience has profoundly shaped students into a tough bunch who are more adaptable, creative, and opportunistic.
Kornchanok Dionne Ong Qianrong, 18, the president of NP Strings, mentioned that “adjusting to the relaxations in time” was one of the obstacles she faced during the preparation for the concert.
“We originally planned for a livestream concert. Thus, when we changed to a live performance, a whole bunch of factors that needed to be coordinated kicked in such as ticketing, et cetera,” she says.
This year, CCAs had the privilege to choose whether they would prefer to showcase their work virtually or physically. NP’s Chinese Drama Club, for example, did both live and pre-recorded shows.
Goh Hui Teng, Sheryl, 19, president and producer for this year’s Arts Fiesta’s, says: “We used to do stage plays; the pre-recorded micro-film we did this year was actually a first for our club… .”
After all the hard work that the students have put in, practising for events that might not have been allowed to take place, it must have been a great relief when their events actually went live. Kornchanok from NP Strings was one such student.
“It was a heartwarming moment to see the support that we had from the audience,” says Kornchanok as she recalled the hectic planning stage as the president of NP Strings. Photo courtesy of Kornchanok Dionne Ong Qianrong.
[One of the] memorable moments would be the audience size that turned up, it did cause a wave of reality that it would be my first live performance in two years and the pressure is on. I have never expected such a large turn up especially after a long break from the pandemic.
“[One of the] memorable moments would be the audience size that turned up, it did cause a wave of reality that it would be my first live performance in two years and the pressure is on. I have never expected such a large turn up especially after a long break from the pandemic,” says Kornchanok.
Art has the ability to connect people, hence without a shadow of doubt, the audience plays a significant part. Drama clubs, specifically, require audience participation to accomplish their performances and that is the privilege of live shows.
According to Sheryl of Chinese Drama Club, the members were trained for situations where they forgot to place props on the stage or where actors took extra steps and missed the spotlight position. The training did not stop there, as they also learnt something through engaging with the audience.
“What we were not prepared for was the audience laughing. So there were a few scenes that we thought were funny, but the audience did not laugh, [and] it was kind of worrying. Then suddenly, at a random part, they started laughing, [which] almost caused our own actors to laugh onstage,” says Sheryl.
Another part of having a live experience is the curtain call, it always leaves a lasting impression amongst the students. For Sheryl, the curtain call served as a recognition for her hard work.
“Because I was the producer, I appeared [on stage towards] the end, right before our instructor. There was [this line] ‘welcome the producer on stage’ and everybody was cheering and clapping, I really felt all my efforts and hard work really paid off,” says Sheryl.
Because I was the producer, I appeared [on stage towards] the end, right before our instructor. There was [this line] ‘welcome the producer on stage’ and everybody was cheering and clapping, I really felt all my efforts and hard work really paid off.
When asked about some of the most notable moments of the fiesta, Lucas Sim, 18, the president of NP Guitar Ensemble, excitedly shared his memories about the curtain call.
“It is something super cool. Everybody is on stage, facing the audience, [and our] family and friends are there seeing you taking a bow together,” he says.
The moment that all the effort finally pays off; the curtain call is an acknowledgement between the performers and the audience. Photo courtesy of Goh Hui Teng, Sheryl (above) and Lucas Sim (below).
When we think of arts CCAs, our first few impressions might include the extensive and effort-packed practices. If we think it is just for the few minutes of performance on the stage, or for the few seconds of applause, the CCA members have their heartwarming stories to tell.
Tham Yi Xuan, Lecia, 18, a member of DanceSport (competitive ballroom dancing), sees it as an opportunity to present their CCA as an art form on top of it being a sport.
“[Our performance] was well received. A few of our friends who watched it were impressed because DanceSport is something that is not really common,” says Lecia.
Other than that, Lecia also participated in the filming of their pre-recorded performances where she expressed her pride for her team’s hard work and effort.
According to Lecia, pre-recorded performances are relatively new to her club as it was not a common practice prior to the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Tham Yi Xuan, Lecia.
“This is the first Arts Fiesta that I am involved in, and I am heartened to see the entire CCA come together to create this entire digital concert despite our busy schedules… we worked hard for the past two months for this production. It is like our baby, it’s something that we all are proud of,” says Lecia.
Many shared sweet memories, starting with striving for a common goal with friends to developing a close bond forged through the time spent training together. Edna Pang, 19, the president of D3 Contemporary Dance Club, was able to get closer to her fellow dance mates whom she had previously never spoken to before. This helped her see what a dance community truly was about and how one can learn from others.
“I remember the moment the live show ended, we all huddled in a huge circle and started jumping up and down in celebration. At that moment, D3 Contemporary Dance felt like a team, a family. We were so proud to be able to perform and express our love for dance once again,” says Edna. “It was very heartwarming to watch everyone rehearse and be so committed to doing their best. After the show, we all went out for late dinner together and it felt like pre-Covid times. It was such a happy night.”
I remember the moment the live show ended, we all huddled in a huge circle and started jumping up and down in celebration. At that moment, D3 Contemporary Dance felt like a team, a family.
As the group size limits have been lifted, CCAs are now able to bond over food – a way to strengthen their relationships. Photo courtesy of Edna Pang.
Despite the disruption wrought by the pandemic, the whole journey has been a massive learning experience for the students during the three years in their respective CCAs. The successfully held fiesta has also kicked off the return of physical CCA sessions and physical events on campus. You can still show your support to the members’ efforts by catching their performances on the official NP Arts Fiesta’s YouTube channel.
Good job, arts and cultural CCAs, as well as everyone out there.