Getting the young hooked on the arts

Ms Fiona Jeremiah from ACT 3 International facilitating a workshop that taught preschool children aged four to six about traditional Malay and Indian arts during a five-day pilot programme that ended yesterday.
Ms Fiona Jeremiah from ACT 3 International facilitating a workshop that taught preschool children aged four to six about traditional Malay and Indian arts during a five-day pilot programme that ended yesterday.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Pilot programme teaches preschoolers about Malay and Indian arts

A five-day pilot programme that taught preschool children about traditional Malay and Indian arts was hailed as a success when it ended yesterday.

About 360 kids aged four to six from eight pre-school centres experienced dance, movement and storytelling performances as part of celebrations for Racial Harmony Day, which was on Thursday.

The pupils enjoyed a 30-minute theatrical performance of stories drawn from Malay and Indian legends. The first was River Tale: Badang And The Stone, a Malay legend featuring four basic traditional Malay dance and music forms: Inang, Asli, Joget and Zapin, as well as Silat - a form of Malay martial arts.

The second was The Story Of Rama And Sita, an Indian legend featuring Bharatanatyam - one of the most widely practised Indian classical dance forms in Singapore.

Following this, the pupils attended a workshop where they were taught the hand gestures and facial expressions of some of the characters.

The programme was a collaboration between drama academy ACT 3 International, Bhaskar's Arts Academy and Era Dance Theatre. It aims to cultivate an interest in traditional art forms from a young age.

Preschool teacher Nirmala Devi of PCF Sparkletots Preschool at Kampong Chai Chee Block 775 told The Straits Times: "The children enjoyed this programme very much, especially the workshop. They enjoyed learning the traditional Indian dance and all of them participated as it was something new to them."

Ms Elaine Ng, director of sector development, traditional arts and dance of the National Arts Council, said: "Our plan is to develop a broad- based audience appreciative of traditional art forms, so active engagement from young is very important."

Ms Ruby Lim-Yang, artistic director of ACT 3 International, said: "Children are hungry and curious for stories. If you tell a good story well, you have the children engaged."

Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, attended the session yesterday. He said: "It relates to all age groups and all races and we hope that it is something that we Singaporeans will be able to embrace and enjoy with the diversity of cultures and art forms that we have."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'Getting the young hooked on the arts'. Print Edition | Subscribe