Highlights of National Heritage Board’s Night Festival 2012

The National Heritage Board’s 5th instalment of the Night Festival was bigger than ever, ranging from The Cathay building, to Armenian Street. Suffice to say that I was not particularly impressed. Some of the offerings of this year’s Night Festival masqueraded as something of cultural value, and the event was really just a mish-mash of random events with no unifying theme. It was a little disorganized and lots of people found themselves puffing and panting just to get to that next performance because of the sprawling venues. And when we arrived at said venue, the not-so user-friendly festival guide and lack of staff on hand made it difficult for us to find the exact spot that each performance would be held at.

That said, it was nice that the Bras Basah and Bugis precinct was buzzing with activity till 2am for 4 nights, and our heritage buildings were awash with light. Also, most of the offerings were FREE. I didn’t need to spend a single cent.

Managed to catch Circus Swingapore, the only school of circus arts in Singapore, which made me wonder if it was only set up for Voyage de la vie. The trio performed at “The Platform” in the National Museum, in a space where the capacity for a crowd was miserable. I felt like I was in a primary school assembly hall because I was made to sit squished on the floor with many others. Spectacular performance, nonetheless. With the combination of agility, grace, and precision, these performers made performing in a circus attractive as an alternative career as they maneuvered the hoops and ropes hanging from the ceiling.

Then I head on down to the SMU green where most of the musical performances were put up. Stumbled across Mylar, a performance by 4 dancers in a suspended pool 15 metres high, part of the Fuerzabruta by Ozono Producciones from Argentina (that’s a mouthful). Supposedly a “collision of dynamic music, visceral emotion, and kinetic aerial imagery” (http://fuerzabrutanyc.com/theshow). All I saw were dancers in wet loose dresses with their underwear showing, sliding across a pool with the audience underneath cheering wildly as the suspended pool descended. I was sorely disappointed in this performance, which was neither sensuous, unearthly or hallucinatory, but plain distasteful.

But before I labelled the night an utter waste of time, I did catch something very entertaining. Beatboxer Dharni and DJ Koflow feat. Bruk Braders! They managed to work the crowd with the dancers from Recognize Studio. This was the way to end the night, with impeccable beats and a wonderful mix.

Till next year, Night Festival!

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