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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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Today was my ‘freedom day’!  I’m officially out of confinement.  YAY!  We went for kid’s shows and had lunch and dinner out.

The boys have been asking me repeatedly when I can go out with them again.  They’ve really been very deprived this past month.  I think they had almost no outings at all!  I’m the one who usually brings them to the park or for other types of outings.

So it’s nice that the end of confinement coincides with the June holidays.  There are lots of activities on. First up, we went for Peter and Blue’s Forest Adventure by the Singapore Dance Theatre with the Cais and Sngs.  They had planned this is before Alyssa was born and the plan was for Jon to attend with the boys.  In the end I went in with Alyssa and Jon went for a coffee.  Ah well.  I enjoy watching dance way more than he does anyway. The story opens on a sunny midsummer morning, when Peter, his dog, Blue, and his cat, Calico, venture into the enchanted forest to search of treats to surprise his mother on her birthday. The inquisitive trio meet many new friends on their adventure including the Mr and Mrs Strawberry, the Apple Blossom Girls, the trouble-making trio Thistle, Thorn, and Acorn, and the charming flowers Lilac, Rose, and Snapdragon.

I thought it was a good performance, and appreciated that there was a storytelling element so that the children would understand what they were watching.  I didn’t expect such a large cast and was happy to see that SDT really put effort into making this a good show for the kids.

Unfortunately while the boys were initially interested, they got a bit distracted as the show wore on.  Ellery in particular started looking around and under his chair (?).  I guess it would have been better if I sat next to him, but Asher was in between us (there was a mini seat scuffle, so I wasn’t going to shift them again).  Asher, who has been having a neck crick these last 2 days and is in a manja and mellow mood, leaned on me almost the whole time.  I think they started spacing out during one of the longer pas de deux between the Orchid and her boyfriend the Sunflower.  I guess their attention span for dance just isn’t that long yet.  Or at least, this theme was less exciting to them than Romeo & Juliet, which they loved because there were swords and fighting.  Such boy boys, sigh.

Anyway on a really random note, I thought it was amusing the Orchid’s boyfriend was Sunflower.  I suppose if you are a flower you don’t really have much choice of who your boyfriend/girlfriend is huh?  It just depends on who is growing next to you?

The full cast (Photo taken from SDT website)

Anyway, I’ll just keep bringing them for these things in the hope that they’ll grow to enjoy watching dance :) Am also scheming to bring Alyssa for ballet classes next time already heh heh heh.

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Photo taken from Singapore Dance Theatre website

We’ve attended  the previous instalments of the Dance Appreciation series, and this was the best by far.  The commentary was sufficiently informative without being too draggy or bogged down in detail, and the periods of dancing were longer so the kids could watch a whole excerpt without interruption.  Not only that, this production particularly appealed to the boys because there was sword fighting involved!

They were also very interested in the story, especially the ending about how Juliet pretended to die, then Romeo being heart-broken really took his own life, then Juliet upon waking and discovering Romeo’s death took her own life as well.

In fact, they were so interested they have asked me to bring them for the full-length performance!  That is music to my ears and I’m seriously considering :)

After the performance they even humoured me when I tried to show them some dance mimes.

I promise (to give you)...

I promise (to give you)…

...a muffin!

…a muffin!

"I'm Romeo eating a muffin!"

“I’m Romeo eating a muffin!”

I also thought the performance by the dancers was excellent.  At the finale, I could feel my tears start to well up seeing Juliet filled with angish at Romeo’s death.

I say, 5 star session!

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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 :)

Ooooo

Puffed up cheeks

Rubbing noses

Elllhhhhh!!

 

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

AAAHHHHHH

Girls all dressed up in ballerina gear

Some of the cast

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

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