Posts Tagged ‘Dance Appreciation Series’

It’s Octoburst time!

Last year’s activities were so engaging that we went back again and again and again. The boys loved the hands on activities, the performances, and the book swop. Each time we went, we spent hours at the Esplanade, and even then I had to drag them away when it was time to go home. This year’s Octoburst promises another fun-filled, activity-packed programme to treat your kids this Children’s Day.

Held annually at the Esplanade, Octoburst provides a host of activities – free and ticketed – for children to explore a world of endless possibilities through the arts. This year there’s also a cute new, colourful mascot called PIP that will make its appearance at Octoburst.

PIP! Looks like a cuddly, colourful merlion to me (Image taken from here.)

Among the ticketed events, there’s a Sensory Walkabout where children will be guided to notice the textures around the Esplanade and use these as inspiration to create a whole new city.

Go on a sensory walkabout (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s My Bright-Light Idea workshop where you and your child will transform a piece of cardboard into a brand new night-light that you can bring home.

An upcycled lamp (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

And if crafting is not your thing, join a ukelele workshop with your child and learn to play an instrument together. There are also several shows, including Casa by La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi, which tells the story of a grown-up and a child who meet, get to know each other and start to build. Building turns into play, and little by little, they build a story, a structure, a roof, a house. Sometimes the little one pretends to be the grown-up, while the grown-up pretends to be the little one.

Building with pipes (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

The one I’m definitely not missing is the Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Swan Lake by the Singapore Dance Theatre. I like this series of performances and think it’s great they present ballet in an accessible way to children. We’ve gone for Nutcracker, and the Introduction to Ballet Classics, but the boys’ favourite so far has got to be Romeo & Juliet! I’m hoping Swan Lake will be as good and they boys will thoroughly enjoy the show. It’ll also be Alyssa’s first ballet related show, so I really can’t wait!

Swan Lake (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s actually one more show called Spot that plays with light and challenges your children to notice things they normally wouldn’t have, but’s sold out already. If you are interested in the other ticketed events, you should book your tickets quick.

Besides these, there are plenty of free activities! So many that you better take a look at the line up and plan your time if you hope to catch all the ones you are interested in! You can print out this festival guide to help you along. Some of the highlights include A Pipe-ful Play Garden by Playeum where you can grow your own little pocket garden and together with other kids, build a living and ever-growing pipe-maze! I think the kids will love this, and I’m hoping the haze will go away this weekend so we can head outdoors to try this activity.

There’s also Doodle City where the kids can add their own touches to doodles by the Band of Doolers, Book Stop where you can bring along a pre-loved children’s book to exchange for another book, Happy Stamping activity with over 200 stamps to choose from (and which kid doesn’t love stamping??), storytelling sessions, and the chance to let your kids watch an angklung performance by Sri Warisan Angklung Ensemble.

Stamps galore! (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s lots going on, and there’s no better place to spend the Children’s Day weekend with your kids! See you there!

Octoburst is on from 9 to 11 Oct at Esplanade Theatres by the Bay. The activities take place at various locations around the Esplanade.

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As part of the Dance Appreciation Series, the SDT presented an Introduction to the Ballet Classics. I have been dragging the boys to watch these short ballet talks/performances since I knew of it’s existence, and I think it’s slowly paying off. I didn’t mention to them that we were going to watch it until the day before, and when I did I wasn’t asked “why are we watching ballet” or anything else along those lines. They just went. In fact, during the show Asher often turned to me and said, “Wow! Mummy, look what he/she did!” And on the way to the car he did a few spins. Heh heh heh…

Maybe they are just resigned to the fact that Mummy is not going to stop, better just make the best of it :)

This was meant to be an introduction to the more famous ballets, so excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, La Bayadère, and Don Quixote were featured.

As always, I can’t decide if its great that the artistic director, Janek Schergen, goes into so much detail about dance because I often learn new things, or if he should cut down on the commentary because the kids get so restless between dances.

Rosa Park was polished and put on a good show as usual. Her pas de deux with Chen Peng was riveting, and made me want to watch SDT’s Don Quixote that’s showing at the end of the year.

But it was Chihiro Uchida who really took my breath away that day. I missed SDT’s Swan Lake in 2012, but I think I would have loved to catch it. Chihiro was exquisite as Odette, giving Odette such beautiful vulnerability and grace.

The other two pairings were unfortunately much less polished. At times they seemed to struggle to stay on the beat, cutting steps before they were fully executed in order to catch up. But I think it’s good to use the Dance Appreciation Series as a way to give these dancers exposure to roles that they normally may not get a chance to do for a full-length performance. So it’s something SDT should continue to do.

Looking forward to the next round.

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After a morning with the grandparents at Botanic Gardens, the kids and I spent an entire afternoon at the Esplanade enjoying the various Octoburst offerings. There were so many things to do, and as it was, we only did a fraction of what was available.

First, Asher and I caught Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre while Ellery had a nap.

As Ellery was still napping when we came out, Asher went to check out Book Stop, a book swop event. I’ve never actually been for a book swop before, so even I was excited to see what was available and what treasures we might find. In the end he settled on The Fish Who Could Wish, a funny book about a fish who can wish anything and have it come true, but he made one very bad wish that ended all that. Ellery now keeps asking to go for the book swop too so that he can exchange his book for another. So we might have to go down again…

Checking out the books at the book swop

Checking out the books at the book swop

The sticker reads "I swopped this book at Octoburst"

The sticker reads “I swopped this book at Octoburst”

We then went for Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Classical Ballet by SDT. I’m not kidding when I say I must have seen a hundred Elsas that day. There were even families with more than one Elsa in them! Gosh. Poor Anna. She’s the real protagonist, I think, just that her sister has the prettier dress and the headline song.

After that the boys then wrote a postcard each at Octopost to a secret someone and posted their postcards in specially designed letterboxes with birds’ heads sticking out. It was a colourful and attractive set-up, and the boys carefully looked at all the birds before deciding which to give their postcard to. I can’t wait for that secret someone to receive the postcards!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam on the right

In the concourse was also this eye-catching installation by Tiffany Singh called Revision of the Optics. I loved how the artwork captured both the sense of sight and smell. The vibrant colours were perfect for a children’s festival, and the scents that drifted past your nose, especially the smells of lavender and dried chilli, added another dimension to the work. I think there was supposed to be the element of sound from the tinkling of bells that hung from the ribbons, but as the air was still there was no tinkling.

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Beautiful rainbow colours

Beautiful rainbow colours

The boys were getting hungry so we started to head for Gluttons Bay, but stopped by the giant Snakes and Ladders for a while. In theory the children will take turns to roll the dice and move on the board. In practice, it’s who is the most assertive that will get the dice. I suppose it’s like that everywhere though huh? Unfortunately for Ellery, he kept missing his turn and got quite upset about it. I tried to encourage him to speak up for himself, but instead he gave up playing altogether. I was quite disappointed, and I couldn’t coax him to go back into the game. Instead he wanted to move on to aMaze Me. I guess there could have been another dice perhaps. But at the same time, it’s good for children to learn to either take turns, or to speak up for themselves.

Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders

Happily, we bumped into Del and Anya there and we decided to head for dinner altogether before the kids went to play at aMaze Me. It’s always nice with the cousins, and it was a real bonus for me to bump into them. As expected, the ribbon maze was more colourful and complicated now than when we went a week ago. To the delight of the boys, they found they could sit and lie at certain parts. They couldn’t quite climb on it as they had wished for, but it was good enough for them. Ellery also specially went to check on his ant bridge and did some maintenance and improvement works. I was happy to see that it was still there at all! I had half-thought that someone might have removed it for some administrative reason or other like it’s “damaging the tree”, “not part of the exhibition space”, or something else. It was a lovely example of allowing kids to think out-of-the-box and for them to enjoy seeing the results of it.

Chilling on the ribbons

Chilling on the ribbons


Anya adding her ribbon to this maze

Ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

The ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

As we headed home I asked the boys if they had a good Children’s Day, and they gave me a resounding “Yes!”

Octoburst is on until Monday, 6 Oct, and there are plenty of free and ticketed events still on. Go check out their website for more information on the various programmes.

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As you know, I love dance.  So even though I’ve got two boys, that’s not going to stop me from bringing them to watch dance.  Actually it’s my dream that one day Asher (or Ellery) will learn ballroom or some other partner dance with me, and dance together with me (Jon’s not too keen on dance, so it falls to the boys :) ).  I remember on a cruise with my family when I was little we had seen a young man (maybe around 18) dancing beautifully with his mother.  It was lovely to watch!

But a full length performance run the risk of being too heavy for Asher at this age, so when Esplanade offered a kid’s Nutcracker production (basically exerpts), I was very keen to bring Asher.  On the way there I told him the story of the Nutcracker and he was looking forward to seeing the mouse king.

We got into the theatre early and ended up taking a bunch of silly pics while waiting :)  I really enjoyed spending that time with him alone.

Anyway it surprised me that he really enjoyed the performance!  He sat forward throughout, and was quite riveted by the dancing.  It was also amusing hearing him ask during the pas de deux where the man went, then where the lady went.  Then, “Eh! The man is back again!”

Interestingly, he said his favourite part was when the mouse king ran away.  The mouse king actually only did a cameo, making a short appearance when the narrator was telling the story.  The actual dance of the battle between the Nutcracker and the mouse king was not shown.  I guess it’s a boy thing :)

And speaking of boy things.   The girls who attended the performance we sooo girly (this is, of course, a sweeping statement).  But really, there were soooo many girls dressed as ballerinas, as princesses, and even one as Snow White.  I don’t remember getting all geared up like that when my Mum brought me to watch dance.  And neither did I want to be!  Times have changed, and I was left with the thought that “wow, it’s hard to have a girl nowadays”.

But back to boy things.  Asher’s boy genes definitely kicked in that day.  At the end of the show Asher said he wanted to see the Sugar Plum fairy (cos he heard the announcement of the meet-and-greet).  On the way to queue he said he wanted to see her, to sit on her lap, to tell her she danced nicely and that he liked her.  Then after queueing for a while, and when we were only 10 people away, he said that actually, he wanted to go home and build a stage for the dinosaurs and ballerinas to dance!  Haha, what a combination!  But we still stayed in the queue.  Then 2 people from our turn, he said, he didn’t want to say hi to the Sugar Plum Fairy anymore and really wanted to go home and build a stage.  Of course I won’t force him to meet her, and actually I was laughing in my head at how in the end the boy genes won.  On the way to the carpark he saw the pond outside and wanted to go run around it and hop from flagstone to flagstone – very boy behaviour.  Daddy was very pleased with the report that day – “Good!” he declared :)

As for the performance itself, I didn’t think the dancing was all that great.  The Sugar Plum Fairy, in particular, was really stiff.  I felt quite uptight just watching her.  But again…as with other times I’ve criticised dancers…they can quite surely dance better than me so I should just keep quiet.  I did feel that Sylvia McCully’s production of Nutcracker back when I was in Primary 2 (and I was a berry in the Fruit Cake dance!) was a lot more inspired, and a lot more beautiful.  I shall go find the old video and try to convert it to DVD!

He gave a scrunched up smile, which led to a series of goofy pics :)


Puffed up cheeks

Rubbing noses



Ouchy! He had accidentally bumped his head, so I copied him for fun and by then he was erupting in an endless stream of giggles


Girls all dressed up in ballerina gear

Some of the cast

Doing more 'boy' stuff like running across flagstones, etc.

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