SINGAPORE - About 600 performers will take to the stage in the show segment of the National Day Parade (NDP) this Saturday (Aug 21) at The Float @ Marina Bay.
This is down from over 3,000 performers in 2018, when the NDP was last performed at the floating platform - a scaling down necessitated by safe management measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The show will integrate virtual performances of another nearly 600 participants from schools, community groups such as the People's Association, and institutes of higher learning such as the National University of Singapore and Republic Polytechnic.
The performers include singer-songwriter Benjamin Kheng and Sezairi Sezali, said the NDP executive committee on Wednesday.
Award-winning film-maker Boo Junfeng reprises his role as creative director at this year's NDP, after directing the parade in 2018. For the first time, the parade will feature augmented reality and fully animated films.
The four-act show is designed for audiences watching from home on television, said the committee.
Through stories of Singaporeans from the past and present, the show will highlight the Singapore spirit and how these people remained resilient despite the challenges each generation faced.
Live performances at the floating platform and animated short films will be blended throughout the show. This will be woven with pre-recorded performances from four satellite sites - Jewel Changi Airport, the National University of Singapore, Marina Barrage and Yio Chu Kang Stadium - to reduce physical contact among the performers.
Three new songs will be performed, including the NDP 2021 theme song The Road Ahead by singers Linying, Sezairi, Shabir Tabare Alam and Shye-Anne Brown.
Two original NDP songs, Breathing City by former Singapore Idol Sezairi and Spirits Anew by Aisyah Aziz, are also part of this year's line-up.
The show will be hosted by Joakim Gomez, Eswari Gunasagar, Fauzie Laily and Patricia Mok and divided into four acts highlighting hopes and aspirations, challenges, strength within, and strength together.
Performers on stage had to be fully vaccinated, undergo testing for in-person rehearsals and monitor their health closely. They were also divided into smaller groups of up to 50 people and subdivided into smaller groups wherever possible, said the NDP 2021 Show Committee.
During the phase two (heightened alert) between May and June, participants also had to find creative ways to rehearse together as all practices went online.
Ms Amanda Ong Wan Yu, a volunteer with the Singapore Soka Association who helped choreograph a dance for 274 performers in Act Two of the show, said this was a mammoth effort for the team. The performers, aged between 17 and 60, had to learn the dance moves, which incorporate umbrellas, as well as coordinate dance formations via Zoom.
“We met in person for the first time to train together at The Float in July before the first rehearsal that weekend,” said the 28-year-old team assistant at an e-commerce company. She added that prior to that practice, the group had met only digitally since May. They have had fewer than seven physical rehearsals together.
“I was very impressed by how well the volunteers could perform the formations since this was the first time we met in person,” said Ms Ong who is participating in NDP for a third time. “By overcoming these challenges, they showed us that nothing is impossible, which is very much in line with the theme for Act Two, which showcases the challenges we face.”
Said Seng Kang Secondary School student Low Yi Jing, 15, who is featured in a virtual dance segment mainly choreographed by her and her fellow students: "We had to learn our routines through video tutorials and Zoom sessions but met recently in June so we could regroup in person to clean our steps and meet the main choreographer".
The dancer, who was part of the NDP line-up last year but had her performance cancelled due to the pandemic, added that while she was disappointed to not perform live, she was glad to have an opportunity to be part of the parade for the first time.
Teachers, hawkers, transport workers and cleaners will be among the spectators invited to watch this year's parade, said NDP 2021 executive committee chairman Tan Cheng Kwee last month.
On Saturday, areas around The Float @ Marina Bay will be closed to the public, including the Helix Bridge, Marina Barrage and Esplanade Park, as part of Covid-19 safe distancing measures.
There will be no public access from 11am to 11.59pm to prevent crowding.
This comes after large crowds were photographed gathering in these areas to watch the NDP rehearsals in July.