BEHIND THE CURTAIN

5th mass display for parade veteran, 65

Madam Yu Ah Lin is the oldest among the Soka performers at this year’s parade.
Madam Yu Ah Lin is the oldest among the Soka performers at this year’s parade. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Even with four National Day Parades under her belt, Madam Yu Ah Lin considers this year's her toughest yet.

Tonight, the parade veteran will be running, swaying her hips and trying to keep in step with some 849 other women from the Singapore Soka Association in a mass display segment.

"This year is different because there are a lot more dance moves. I'm older now and I'm stiffer.

"I have to rub medicated oil at home after the rehearsals because of the body aches," said Madam Yu in Mandarin.

The 65-year-old housewife, who is the oldest among the Soka performers, also participated in the 1990, 1995, 1998 and 2005 NDPs.

LABOUR OF LOVE

It's a lot of hard work. Many of the women don't have a dance background and it's challenging for them but they are very dedicated and really put their hearts into this.

MS JENNIFER PHOON, 45, one of the three choreographers for Soka

In the seven-minute performance, the women have to peel off layers of their long dresses to form words like unity, progress, success and onwards in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

The 3kg costume comprises a cape and two layers attached by velcro, which they would peel off to reveal different colours.

Ms Jennifer Phoon, 45, one of the three choreographers for Soka, added that the performance is a "massive movement" which requires seamless coordination.

"It's a lot of hard work. Many of the women don't have a dance background and it's challenging for them but they are very dedicated and really put their hearts into this," said Ms Phoon, who works as an executive secretary.

She has been designing the choreography since last November. She has also been putting performers through their paces since March to perfect the dance routine.

Madam Yu said: "This is our Golden Jubilee... I'm also very nervous about (the possibility of) forgetting the steps so I've been practising at home every day," she said.

Lim Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2015, with the headline '5th mass display for parade veteran, 65'. Print Edition | Subscribe