SINGAPORE - Over 50 performers aged between six and 19 auditioned on Sunday (June 23) for a spot at this year's ChildAid, an annual charity concert co-organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times which will be held later this year.
More than half performed dance acts in the first of two auditions.
ChildAid's chief choreographer Samantha Kan, who was involved in last year's concert, said: "I was impressed with the mix of kids who obviously trained very hard and those who have not been training as hard, but have so much fire and heart to dance and perform."
Sugar Rush Crew, a three-member dance crew from 10 Square Youth, was among those who auditioned. The group last performed in ChildAid in 2015.
"We hope to perform again this year to show how we've improved our skills and become more diverse," said 15-year-old Shah Zamani from Geylang Methodist Secondary School, who has been dancing since he was 10 years old.
The other two members are 13 and 14 years old.
Hip-hop dance group Stylo Mylo Crew from The Little Arts Academy is hoping to make their first appearance at the concert.
The group consists of nine members aged between 11 and 15 years old.
Group leader Bazil Khalaf, 13, from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School said: "Even though we knew each other before this, we only grew closer as friends this year after our groups merged.
"So we hope we can perform on stage together to show the public our dance moves."
Solo performers were aplenty too.
Careezza Cheah, a 13-year-old from St Margaret's Secondary School, performed a solo contemporary acrobatic dance routine that involved handstands, cartwheels and backbends.
It was her first time auditioning for ChildAid.
She started ballet at four years old but switched to acrobatic dance when she was 10 and hopes to join the circus as a hand balancer when she is older.
The audition on Sunday took place at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on 1 Straits Boulevard.
The centre, which opened in 2017, works with arts and cultural groups to support and strengthen the local Chinese culture.
The second and final day of the audition will be held on June 29. Selected performers will be notified sometime in July.
The concert, which is in its 15th year, is produced by Dick Lee Asia. It will take place at the Esplanade Theatre on Nov 20 and 21.
It is anchored by the theme "Sing! Play! Dance!".
Singer-songwriter and Cultural Medallion winner Dick Lee returns as the creative director for the third year running.
ChildAid raises funds for both The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund - which provides recess and transport money to students from low-income families - and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund - which supports arts education for children from underprivileged families.
Last year's ChildAid concert, titled Jumpin' Jukebox Jive, raised more than $2 million.
The main sponsors for the event this year are United Overseas Bank and Citibank.
Chief vocal trainer John Lee, who was involved for the first time last year, said he was initially daunted by the idea of training a large number of children but ended up being pleasantly surprised.
"Being able to teach especially gifted kids who are able to just get it, and even better than some adults, was quite an eye-opening experience.
"This year, we've got a good pool of talent and the standards are quite high," he said.
A fusion of classical meets modern performances may well be on the cards for this year's show.
"We're putting our feelers out to the classical singers as there is such as a big classical world out there. We look forward to fusing classical and modern together for a fresh touch," he said.