Filipino shadow dancers win inaugural Asia's Got Talent

Filipino shadow play dance troupe El Gamma Penumbra have won the inaugural Asia’s Got Talent, the spin-off of the popular international reality TV franchise.

The 13-member crew, whose dance routines incorporate complex shadow sequences, were visibly emotional when announced as the winners of the show, where they beat runner-up Khusugtun, a Mongolian group of throat singers. As champions, they walk away with a prize of US$100,00 (S$133,000). 

Leader of the dance crew Marvin Marfa, 25, told regional reporters after the show that his team feels “so blessed” by the results. “We still can’t believe we won, but we are grateful, and we know that we have given our best in every round.” 

He also revealed the group’s plans on how they intend to spend the prize money. Tearing up, he said: “Our families are struggling back at home, so a portion of the money will go to them. We also have a charity that we’re sponsoring, so another part of the money will go to them. Finally, we hope to use some of the money to build a nice studio so that we can better ourselves.”

The final results show, which was filmed at Marina Bay Sands’ Mastercard Theatre and broadcast on AXN (StarHub TV Channel 511) on Thursday evening, featured a total of nine finalist acts fom around the region. 

Singapore’s only grand finalist was tap dance group Dance Thrilogy, comprising 11 girls aged nine to 12. 

Although they did not win the title, they are "not disappointed", said nine-year-old Lea Chong. The St Hilda's Primary School Primary 3 pupil said: "We are very happy for the winners, and I'm happy that I learnt a lot in this competition. I also made many new friends, and got many autographs and photographs with the other competitors." 

Her mother, part-time lecturer Evelyn Liu, 42, added: “All of the parents are just so proud of the girls. We never dared to imagine that they would reach the finals, so the journey is amazing enough. 

“They have also improved their technical skills greatly because they had to learn many routines in a very short amount of time. Being so young, they have many more opportunities in the future."

The show’s judges certainly see great potential in the young girls. Judge Melanie Chisholm, 41, said: “Dance Thrilogy was one of my favourite acts, and it’s wonderful to see them come this far. They’re determined, and they’re absolutely brilliant.”

The other three judges are Taiwanese-American singer Vanness Wu, American musician David Foster and Indonesian singer Anggun. The final results were determined by public votes, which were cast over four days via SMS, Facebook and the show’s mobile app. The number of votes cast and other voting details were not revealed. 

The grand final results show of Asia’s Got Talent replays on AXN (StarHub TV Channel 511) on Sunday at 5.05pm.

yipwy@sph.com.sg