On the 1st and 2nd November 2017, the MFSS Choir performed at the Opening of the 9th Xposition ‘O’ Contemporary Dance Fiesta, entitled “Are We?”, organised by Odyssey Dance Theatre Ltd, held at the Victoria Theatre.
Set to the music of Metamorphosis by Philip Glass, the performance is further embellished by the chorus vocals and two solo vocalists, where eight international dancers take the main stage.
Quoting choreographer Dr Danny Tan’s programme note, the state of mind for this piece is an intensely personal, yet therapeutic journey for him. He aspires for this piece of work to connect with the audience, and engender us to question our values in life and weigh its meaning above everything else. In “Are We?”, dance artists are people who exercise their choices to express their feelings according to their own experiences. They may choose to conceal their selves or re-compose themselves, but in most instances, their fragile selves cannot escape the brutality of life when being confronted with death.
Here are some of our choir members’ (really long) reflections of the whole journey to the actual performance.
This experience spanning from the rehearsal to the 3 shows has been an extremely fascinating one. It was my first time as well as many others’ performing alongside a professional company/troupe.
At the start of the year, I didn’t expect the MFSS Choir to collaborate with ODT for such spectacular performances. This is certainly a very rare opportunity as not many school choirs get the chance to collaborate with professional artistes. The experience so far has taught me to be disciplined, diligent and determined. As we were in public eye, we had to behave properly and abide to the high standards of the MFSS Choir. This was to uphold the choir’s reputation that was built up many batches of choristers ago.
Prior to the shows, we had to work very hard to learn the pieces as the score changed frequently to accommodate Dr Tan’s work perfectly. In the midst of preparation, I wanted to give up but did not as I knew that if we worked hard, the benefits that would be reaped would certainly be worth it after all the time and effort invested into this work. During the shows, we were required to stand for around an hour for minimal noise production. This was especially tiring as the girls wore heels the whole time while standing on the risers. Our feet were sore but we still pressed on to give our best performance. It was a bit difficult to stand very still during the solo after Metamorphosis 4 but I managed to do so with a clear goal in mind for the post-show.
I have observed that the dancers are extremely disciplined and have set very high standards for themselves. When rehearsal is not in progress, I see them either stretching or practising their respective dance routines. I really look up to them as they work hard all the time and are very disciplined despite several distractions.
I have observed that music is not the only way to express oneself. Colours and pictures are able to do so too. The different colours of lighting used during different parts of the show represented different emotions. For example, reddish-orange lighting during Metamorphosis 4 represented anger. This shows that colours is one of the few powerful ways to convey messages or emotions to others. Art itself is a universal language that does not of a fixed way of use. The mood was well set due to the special effects such as the mist. It gave the specific part in a show a dream-like atmosphere and really enhanced the overall show even more. Projections, too, enhanced the overall setting. The intertwine between both 2D and 3D effects have given the audience a wonderful sensory experience for the eyes and ears.
One of the values that I have learnt is cooperation. Behind the scenes of this production is a team of dedicated and passionate technicians, musicians and performing artistes. Without all of us working together, these successful shows would not have been possible. For example, the choir had to work together with Mr Mak, the pianist, to deliver a smooth and emotional performance musically in order to touch the hearts of the audience. Another example is the technicians working with working with the dancers. The spotlights and projections had to be on and off at the precise time to allow the dancers to perform smoothly without error. Due to everyone’s teamwork, the shows have been very successful. Another value that I have learnt is passion. Without passion, such a beautiful masterpiece would not be around to share with others. For example, Dr Danny Tan’s passion for dance has spurred him on for the past 15 years of his career. He still continues to have a deep love for what he does and thus that was how Are We? was borne. Passion is what motivates us to chase our dreams and that is what keeps us going.
Overall, this collaboration with ODT was an eye-opening experience as I was exposed to a new environment as well as new ways to portray the message or story that one wishes to tell.
– Cara Wong
From this experience, I learnt the value of commitment. Success does not come easily and observing the dancers, they sacrificed time and energy in order for the performance to turn out well such as the their meals, just to make more time for practices to improve on their moves. A lot of effort was also seen and put into every moment when their dancing even when they practice. They do not waste time, instead, the time is made use to do warm ups and stretches. Furthermore, these dancers do not get distracted easily. They are focused, so as to prevent them from making mistakes. All these factors allow them to do their very best and their hard work was definitely paid off. Therefore I learnt that determination and commitment plays a huge role in making a dream work.
– Tan Ann Shih
I learned really a lot let me list them down:
-overcoming stage fright
But the greater part is that I really really really think that this experience is so precious, so invaluable and enjoyable. I for the first time, experience the feelings of those in movies. I mean, the lightings that we always see in the youth drama (the ones that talks about high school life). I really appreciate having this opportunity. It actually really inspired and enlightened me. When I was singing up there with the perfect lightings and smokes, I have a thought “I WANT TO BE ON STAGES LIKE THIS WHEN I GROW UP. SERIOUSLY I MEAN.” I really had this thought. It was really strong these 2 days. I don’t know whether this thought suits me, but I’m going to test it out – whether it is pure whim or passion, I will!
Through this process, I’ve grown up to be more mature in terms of my behaviour. I also found some passion that have always been latent. I learned, in various ways for eg through the performances itself and teachers sharing of life lessons of what i really want. I haven’t found it yet, but these few days has somehow kind of enlightened me like lighting of my pathways. Not certain yet, but somehow feel like there are already some directions shown. I also finally found myself actually having some passion for STAGE. For example, whenever the lights first shine on me when the curtain is still close. I FEEL YOUTH , FEEL A RUSH OF ADRENALINE AND THE FEELING THAT I WANT TO SHOW PEOPLE WHAT I HAVE GOTTEN. WITH MORE CONFIDENCE. THANK YOU FOR GIVING THIS CHANCE BEFORE I EMBARK ON SEC 4!
THANK YOU REALLY MUCH FOR GIVING ME THIS CHANCE TO REPRESENT MFSS!
– Tan Jin Xiang
This was truly an unforgettable experience for me and it was very special for me as I performed with ODT on my birthday! I bonded with my teammates and was amazed by the agility of the dancers and of course Dr Danny Tan’s excellent direction. 🙂
I have observed the use of sound to create an exhilarating performance- the dancers moved swiftly to the sounds of the choir, piano and sound effects in harmony. 🙂
I have learnt the importance of humility as an artist. Dr Danny Tan was extremely benevolent and appreciative to all the performers especially during curtain call when he acknowledged everyone. It shows how a simple act of kindness can make everyone feel warm and comfortable. I appreciate his friendliness towards us! 🙂
– Sophie Siew
I stood on stage for a professional performance with hard-trained dancers and lighting crew. It was definitely intimidating at first, as we were only some local secondary school choir, and i was not sure of the expectations put onto us. But after the feedback, i was more confident and assured that we were not being looked down upon, and i was very glad when the dancers praised and smiled at us, showing that these professionals respected us. It is very cool to be part of a world premier of this performance, and of such a deep context.
– Huang Yun Xin
I’ve seen how much professionalism there is among the artists and the people working there. Seeing that many of the people in the production, especially the dancers who have showed discipline to practice on their own, I myself have learnt to maintain that amount of discipline. Standing silent for a long time was the most difficult for me as keeping the discipline was very hard. From this, I learnt that discipline was an important role to play in performing.
I observed that the music and our singing is closely tied to the artists’ dance and the visual aspects of the performance. At first, I thought that we were only there to specifically ‘sing for them’. However, as I experienced the rehearsals, I realised that we had an important part to play to make their dance and our part a successful one.
– Faustina Lim
This opportunity that was given to all of us has been an amazing one. As we were behind waiting to perform in the dark, I reflected. Reflected about the journey I have had this past 2 years with the choir and my seniors. It has been an amazing one and all my seniors I have met and experienced all these with… I will truly treasure them. This performances are the last few I will have with my seniors. And I will miss them dearly. So I am very thankful for this amazing journey and opportunity to be able to perform here.
I have learnt that art can be expressed in many ways. Not only in singing and dancing but lighting affects create art as well by creating the mood and beauty in the art.
I have also learnt the value of passion in whatever I do. No matter what I do no matter whether I am fine with it I have to pull through. I have to have the confidence and passion to push myself forward to achieve what I want to do no matter that obstacle.
– Caleb Goh
The collaboration with ODT is an really enriching experience as things change from one second to another quickly and instantly. The dancers were asked to change their movement on the spot and perfecting it by a very short time and that is really professional and it is something that not many people have seen.
The movements of the performance is really well in sync with the choir , it is as if it was one big action. The movements also paints a thousand words as it’s meaning and inspiration for this performance isn’t just something that is fixed but is always changing personally or not .
I’ve learnt how to understand and appreciate something by sound and sight. It has been proven as different types of movement, rhythm, volume and tempo can change the tone , colour and texture of a performance. It can change the emotions and other feelings. Hence learning how to understand and appreciate something isn’t possible instantly and is learnt through experience.
– Lincoln Neo
I am very thrilled to be part of a choir who gets such a great and rare opportunity to perform professionally with a dance company. After a lecture from one of our teacher in charge, I learnt that art is flexible and constant changes will be made to the performance. The choir had a last minute song change the day before our first performance and we had to memorise our own notes and be able to deliver the song well.
The choir had to be able to connect with the dancers when we were singing so that the atmosphere and mood will be set for the dancers and they will be able to deliver the story well. The lightings also helped set the mood and tell the story. When we sang metamorphosis 4 on ‘rage’, the choirs’ and the pianists’ rhythm were different to show unsteadiness and conflict but in metamorphosis 2 on ‘choice’, the rhythms of the choir and pianist matched throughout to show agreement and resolution.
The choir learnt how to be patient and disciplined especially when waiting for our turn to sing backstage and we had to be very quiet, no fidgeting or it would affect the performance. We had to be responsible in memorizing our scores as we had a last minute change for half of metamorphosis 2. Through this three days, the choir has matured and opened doors for future batches of the choir and set higher standards for the choir.
– Emmabelle Yu