A soaring nocturnal extravaganza

Globally acclaimed Argentinean troupe Fuerza Bruta performing at the Singapore Night Festival last Saturday.
Globally acclaimed Argentinean troupe Fuerza Bruta performing at the Singapore Night Festival last Saturday. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
From far left) Hedren Sum, Galina Mihaleva and Nagaraju Thummanapalli, three of the five creatives behind the artwork Pulse at Capitol Singapore’s outdoor plaza.
(From left) Hedren Sum, Galina Mihaleva and Nagaraju Thummanapalli, three of the five creatives behind the artwork Pulse at Capitol Singapore’s outdoor plaza. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
A gamelan instrumental performance from Gamelan Asmaradana.
A gamelan instrumental performance from Gamelan Asmaradana.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

Argentinian troupe Fuerza Bruta, the headline act at this year's Singapore Night Festival, put on nine sold-out shows

Arms outstretched, some performers tumble out of a giant bubble. Others soar and spin through the confetti-filled air. Later, a man in a white jacket and pants "swims" through a giant air tunnel, amid flashing lights and fast beats, like a scene out of a science-fiction movie.

Last Saturday, Fuerza Bruta, the headline act at this year's Singapore Night Festival, wowed audiences with its stunts and electrifying energy at the Cathay Green.

The acclaimed Argentinian troupe put on nine sold-out shows, each about 30 minutes long and performed to a 1,000-strong crowd, from Thursday to Saturday.

The festival, held from Aug 23 to last Saturday, featured 17 light artworks, two festival villages and more than 40 performances and roving acts. Attendance figures for this year's festival were not available at press time, but last year's edition had more than 500,000 visitors.

This year's event is the last one helmed by long-time festival director Angelita Teo, who is leaving for Lausanne, Switzerland to be director of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.

Her successor as the festival director has not been announced.

She says: "The Singapore Night Festival started in 2008 as Singapore's first nocturnal festival and I am very honoured to be a part of the team that has witnessed the festival grow to become a must-visit event, both locally and regionally.

"The Singapore Night Festival is organised by the National Heritage Board, and the team will continue to carry on the good work of providing our visitors with the best possible festival experience."

Festival visitors told The Straits Times they enjoyed the festivities.

Engineer Mak Shwu Shenn, 38, a Singaporean, says: "I think the festival is getting better every year. It is good that (over the years), the organisers have extended its duration. This time, it is not as crazy and crowded as in previous years. In general, the festival is world-class."

Singaporean Ronald Ho, 27, who turned up last Saturday, has gone to the festival for the last three years.

The naval officer says: "Over the years, I think the event has improved, with better traffic and crowd control, and more security staff walking around. But I hope there are more free events because Singaporeans always love free stuff."

Mr Bonifacio Sarmiento, 39, a Filipino who has been working here as a project engineer for six years, says: "This is my first time at the festival. I came because I saw my friends post a Facebook live video of the beautiful projections yesterday. The lights are very pretty."

One performance festival-goers were treated to this year was MMO, or Mystical Meandering Occurrences, the first roving theatrical act by Sweet Tooth, the outreach division of Singapore-based contemporary theatre company Cake Theatrical Productions.

It featured three mascots, who represented the mythical and physical characteristics of the planets and otherworldly beings, roaming around the district.

Natalie Hennedige, 45, artistic director of Cake Theatrical Productions, says: "The idea was to enliven the district and surprise audiences and passers-by with something a little out of the ordinary."

A projection on a banyan tree titled The Legend Of Ramayana, by French group Spectaculaires, was complemented by a gamelan and wayang kulit performance by Singaporean non-profit arts organisation Gamelan Asmaradana.

Over at Capitol Singapore's outdoor plaza, a large interactive installation featuring colourful visuals, sound and music got passers-by stopping and even lying down.

The piece, titled Pulse, was a collaboration among five creatives - Galina Mihaleva, Hedren Sum, Vibeke Sorensen, Brandon Leo and Nagaraju Thummanapalli - and reflected on the influence of digital technology and media in today's society.

Says Mr Sum, 35, a digital humanities project manager at the Nanyang Technological University Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity: "We created this work using an interdisciplinary approach - combining art, design and technology - and the response has been great. People gather, lie down, stay and relax under the artwork, and this is very rewarding to see."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2019, with the headline 'A soaring nocturnal extravaganza'. Print Edition | Subscribe