Youth show off talent in new SYF segment

Siblings Dewi and Andi performing at the Youth Got Talent! competition last Saturday, which was held in celebration of 50 years of the Singapore Youth Festival. The pair won the Audience Choice Award.
Siblings Dewi and Andi performing at the Youth Got Talent! competition last Saturday, which was held in celebration of 50 years of the Singapore Youth Festival. The pair won the Audience Choice Award.PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

Dewi Sandra Norman and Andi Putra popped and locked their way into the hearts of audiences last Saturday, claiming the Audience Choice Award at the inaugural Youth Got Talent! competition at the annual Shine Festival, organised by the National Youth Council.

The siblings, 16-year-old Andi and 15-year-old Dewi from Northbrooks Secondary School, wowed the crowd with moves they choreographed themselves to a medley of songs and beats at the competition, held in celebration of 50 years of the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF).

Also in the showdown were more than 30 items including breakdancing, beatbox battles and magic acts, a deliberate deviation from traditional SYF competitions. Groups or individuals were shortlisted based on audition videos that were not bound to their co-curricular activities (CCAs).

Co-chair of the 2016 Shine Festival Steering Committee David Tay explained: "Many youth have interests and talents beyond their CCAs, and the Youth Got Talent! competition allows them to show the world what they've got.

"These channels are a good way to uncover the many hidden youth talents in our midst."

Previous SYF competitions required students to sign up through their respective CCAs and were usually of a much larger scale, involving full school orchestras, military bands or drama troupes.

Indeed, the hours of preparation ahead of these performances became so stressful that parents and participants bewailed the "examination syndrome" creeping in, and taking the joy out of the supposed celebration of youth.

The latest recast addressed these concerns.

With its smaller scale and more flexible entry requirements, it left the way open for young people like Andi - who could not join his school's dance club as it is only for girls - to shine.

The student councillor and youth flying club member pursues his passion outside school at Recognize! Studios at Orchard Central on Saturdays. Grateful for the opportunity, he said: "We get more freedom to express ourselves because if we performed with our CCAs, we would have to follow a very strict routine, and take instructions from the school choreographer."

Thisbottom-up approach to the youth art scene in Singapore more accurately reflects young people's diverse suite of interests, from parkour to beatboxing, which schools do not typically offer as official CCAs.

The Judges' Choice Award went to a group of three CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School girls who won over judges' with I Was Made For Loving You by Tori Kelly featuring Ed Sheeran.

Celeste Ow, 16, and Micole Chan and Karis Goh, both 15, were all from the choir, but lauded the template of Youth Got Talent! as it meant they could pitch their performance "against a plethora of different talents".

When asked if there were any downsides to performing outside their CCA, Celeste said: "The hardest part of the process would be finding the time to rehearse (since we had to do it over and above school and CCA)... but we plan to do more gigs this year after I am done with my O levels."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2016, with the headline 'Youth show off talent in new SYF segment'. Print Edition | Subscribe