Singapore International Festival of Arts offers sneak peek at 2015 line-up

(From left) Aundi Marie Moore, Thomas Michael Allen, Suzanna Guzman, Museop Kim and Anne-Carolyn Bird in Facing Goya, the Michael Nyman opera which opens the festival on Tuesday evening. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS
(From left) Aundi Marie Moore, Thomas Michael Allen, Suzanna Guzman, Museop Kim and Anne-Carolyn Bird in Facing Goya, the Michael Nyman opera which opens the festival on Tuesday evening. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS

The curtain rises on the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) on Tuesday and organisers are also offering a weekend-long sneak peek at next year's line-up, billed as the best of local arts.

From noon to 6pm on Saturday and 1pm to 6pm on Sunday, artists and arts companies preparing festival commissions for the 2015 programme will present and discuss their plans and proposals at 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Rd. Attendance is free and members of the public are invited to sit in and give their feedback.

Artists commissioned for next year's festival and who will give presentations include dance pioneers Goh Lay Kuan and Santha Bhaskar; multimedia artist Brian Gothong Tan; comedian Kumar and classical musicians from the T'ang Quartet.

Also on the roster are theatre directors Ivan Heng of Wild Rice, Natalie Hennedige of Cake Theatre, Zizi Azah of Teater Ekamatra, Kok Heng Leun of Drama Box and Wang Chong, artistic director of Beijing-based experimental theatre group Theatre du Reve Experimental.

Some $2.5 million has been disbursed on local commissions. Others picked include Lasalle College of the Arts, whose students will restage the revolutionary dramas of Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing, with Wang.

Among the most expensive productions next year is a dance show choreographed by Cultural Medallion recipient Goh, 75, who created groundbreaking works with her late husband, dramatist Kuo Pao Kun. Homing Fish, which echoes her trademark piece of the same name from the 1990s, will combine elements of Chinese lion dance, Malay dikir barat and Indian bharatanatyam dance. It is budgeted at roughly $350,000.

Another major dance production comes from Bhaskar Arts Academy and revives an epic work of kathakali dance theatre shown in Singapore in 1954 at a then newly revamped Victoria Theatre. Mrs Bhaskar, 75, will work with students from Kerala Kalamandalam, which put up the older production as well.

Festival director Ong Keng Sen hopes the public discussions will help audience feel a greater connection to local artists and Sifa. "It's also a statement that artistic commissions take a long time, that there needs to be time given to artists. I realise people still enshrine the idea of an 'instant noodle' culture," he says.

For more information, e-mail sifa@artshouse.sg

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