Shuffle to classical music

Street dance will move to the tunes of violins and cellos at this year's ChildAid

ST 20121126 CHILDAID 3407381m

The opening act for this year's ChildAid charity concert will feature the unusual combination of dancers performing different styles of street dance and musicians playing classical instruments such as violins and cellos.

As ChildAid choreographer and dance trainer to the performers Zaini Mohammad Tahir, 43, describes it: "This sets the tone for the entire evening."

The Electric Edition-themed show organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times includes four dance groups ranging from primary school pupils to polytechnic students, performing genres from hip-hop to ballet.

The two groups in the opening act are students from the Republic Polytechnic Hip Hop Interest Group and members of dance group Saltare Beats.

Saltare Beat are also beneficiaries of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, a programme under The Old Parliament House which gives an arts education to underprivileged but artistically gifted children. It is one of two causes ChildAid is raising funds for. The other is The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which helps children from low-income families with school-related expenses.

The two groups were rehearsing in the auditorium of Singapore Press Holdings Media Centre in Genting Lane last Friday night.

Under Zaini's instruction, they practised their moves in front of full-length mirrors set up in the auditorium, first without music, then to music.

Saltare Beats dancer Fadilah Mohammad Amin, 17, tells Life! during a break: "Usually, when we practise on our own, it's not at this standard. It's really very intensive."

The other two dance groups in the concert are ballet dancers from The School of Dance, and Super Duper Junior comprising Primary 3 to 6 pupils from Anglo-Chinese School (Primary).

Super Duper Junior won gold with honours in the primary school international dance category at the Singapore Youth Festival this year. They will be dancing during an act with Toh Yi Fan, 15, and Lineath Rajendran, 18, both of whom will be rapping an original composition they co-wrote. They will be backed by a live orchestra.

The ACS (Primary) boys have been rehearsing under their school's resident choreographer Yutaki Ong. Their routine will be styled further by Zaini when they practise together with the rappers and the orchestra.

Primary 6 pupil Gregory Ng, 12, says one challenge is to catch the timing of the music, which is slower than the pace of the music they usually dance to. He says of performing at ChildAid: "It's a nice finale to my six years in ACS." Primary 5 pupil Ethan Aw, 11, adds: "It's special in the sense that it's not just to perform. It's fund-raising for other children."

Other performers Zaini is working with on choreography include the ITE show choir, who are doing a medley of songs by rock band Queen, and some of the concert's vocalists doing song- and-dance items.

For non-dance group performers, he uses more improvisations based on the movements they are comfortable with. He also encourages them to find out the meaning of the songs and the background of the artists they are performing.

With two weeks to the show, the performers have been undergoing intensive vocal and dance training for hours at a stretch. Overseas Family School student Cheryl Bains, 13, who will be singing and dancing, says: "It's a great experience. You don't feel tired because everyone gives one another energy."

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