Games' opening gambit revealed

Vidhi Tekchandani is first a badminton player, but the 13-year-old has also become quite the dancer.

For months, the Methodist Girls' School Secondary 1 student has been perfecting the steps and routines as part of the curtain raiser for the 28th SEA Games' opening ceremony.

She was one of about 5,000 performers and volunteers putting on a show for nobody - until last night.

Close to 30,000 spectators - made up of SEA Games volunteers and the families and friends of the opening ceremony's performers and volunteers - were at the National Stadium last night for the full dress rehearsal of the June 5 opening ceremony. It was the first time a live audience was given a glimpse of the two-hour extravaganza.

"It's my first time being a part of a performance like this," Vidhi told The Sunday Times. "But I'm not nervous. We've been spending a lot of time practising."

As part of Act 1 entitled "DNA", she and some 750 participants, who also included students from Raffles Girls' School, Raffles Institution and the School of Dance, are responsible for making formations with pinpoint accuracy, all while wearing costumes lit by LED lights.

The sound, light and pyrotechnics show is one of five acts in the opening ceremony. Details of the 40-minute show - including the identities of the 13 torch-bearers - will remain a secret but organisers have promised to deliver a technically demanding and visual spectacle unlike any Singapore has seen.

For one thing, spectators yesterday saw the 160 high-definition projectors in action, transforming the floor of the National Stadium into a massive screen. It is the largest projection system used in any sporting event in the world to date.

So while it has been a tiring and time-consuming journey, many of the opening ceremony's performers yesterday felt more excitement than jitters now that they are one step closer to seeing their months of toil finally come to fruition.

Said Nur Adilah Soffian, 18, a dental hygiene and therapy student from Nanyang Polytechnic: "The time commitment has been a little more than I expected. But I don't regret it at all. We made new friends, and it's been fun."