Saying thank you to hawkers and market stall owners through dance

Contemporary dance company P7:1SMA will stage a dance performance at Tampines Round Market and Food Centre.
Contemporary dance company P7:1SMA will stage a dance performance at Tampines Round Market and Food Centre.PHOTO: P7:1SMA

When the lunchtime crowd descends upon Tampines Round Market and Food Centre at noon on March 16 and 17, there will be nine figures walking across the vacant central area of the market in a neat line, pushing shopping trolleys embellished with fairy lights.

Clad in costumes made of wire mesh and an assortment of hawker staples such as chopsticks and styrofoam cups, the silent individuals will break out into slow-motion dance moves.

The unusual sight is part of District 18, a 45-minute contemporary dance piece produced by Singapore dance company P7:1SMA for the 12th edition of the Arts In Your Neighbourhood programme, which takes place from Thursday to March 24.

Organised by the National Arts Council (NAC), the programme features 50 arts activities across 16 locations islandwide, with close to half centred on Tampines, this edition's focus town. Previous editions have featured neighbourhoods such as Woodlands and Jurong.

Norhaizad Adam, artistic director of P7:1SMA, says the dance is an ode to the hawkers and stall owners at the market and food centre.

"Even though it's just a performance, it's the least we can do. We want to connect with everyone and this is one way to say thank you to the uncle and aunties who work here," says the 31-year-old.

The dance will also have an interactive element, with performers reaching out to diners through mimed actions.

  • VIEW IT / ARTS IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

    WHERE: Various locations

    WHEN: Thursday to March 24

    ADMISSION: Free. Registration required for some activities

    INFO: artsforall.sg

"I don't want it to be a one-way performance. It's ultimately up to the audience to respond and I hope they won't just be spectators," adds Norhaizad.

Other performing arts groups, such as Ding Yi Music Company, have also found ways to engage Tampines residents in their performance.

The Chinese music group will be conducting a walking tour, for about 30 participants, to famous neighbourhood landmarks such as Tampines Tree Garden, where they will learn about the history of the sites and record sound bites on their cell phones. The audio clips will then be incorporated into a finale piece that the music group will perform on March 17 and 23.

Mr Dedric Wong, 33, general manager and assistant conductor of Ding Yi Music Company, says: "We hope that this session will let people be involved in music-making, even if they have no musical background."

Ms Chua Ai Liang, NAC senior director of engagement and participation, says the council has gone a step forward with engaging residents this season. "We are better at facilitating their involvement this time around. Having a close engagement with the performances will create a whole new experience for residents because they now have memories of their input."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Saying thank you to hawkers and market stall owners through dance'. Print Edition | Subscribe