Feature story by Valerie Friedenberg with an account by Belinda Ng
South Island School’s annual student led International Evening is where many performances offering different cultural experiences are brought together for one night of singing, dancing, instrumental performances, and even special Sand Art production. This school event successfully adds cultural diversity to South Island and helps widen our international perspective by reminding us that we’re not just any school, but an international community.
Year 12 students Sanjana Ganguly, Virendra De Alwis, Kara McMillan, and Tejas Hedge coordinated the wonderful evening this year. The chosen theme of “The Elements”, reflects the artistic view of cultural diversity, when exploring the earth’s elements of fire, water, wind, and earth. These are all crucial in maintaining life on earth and this relates to our school’s values of how individuals from different cultures come together to sustain a nurturing school environment for each other.
The charity which International Evening proceeds are going towards is “Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong”. It was chosen because the disabled community in Hong Kong is often derived from artistic expression and ADA aims to provide a training and volunteer centre to help the disabled reach their full artistic potential.
A few performers from ADA made an appearance at International Evening. Christine Lau and Jason Wong did an upbeat dance duet, Anson Tang did a heartfelt piano solo and Lee Sai-Ho and Anita Yeung did a unique sand-art performance. These performances helped introduce the charity ADA and demonstrated how the organisation is capable of helping the disabled reach their maximum capability and do what they love- to produce Art.
Performing on stage at International Evening 2016 was truly an unforgettable experience for me. Above all, it was incredibly eye opening to witness firsthand the amount of effort that goes into putting together a show like this.
A performer’s perspective
Account by Belinda Ng
My dance partner Kaila and I first developed the concept of having a dance battle because she was a ballet dancer and I loved hip-hop. Given that the spirit of International Evening is to culminate everyone’s culture and talent together, it only seemed natural for us to choreograph this unique fusion of dance styles. When it came to picking out our songs, we also wanted to go as “international” as possible, so our final track had songs from different genres and three different languages. Since our dance track involved editing together different soundtracks, we sought the help of Andre (SIS’s own DJ). It was here that the idea of using a radio to change songs was introduced- old school style dancing with a twist!
From then on, the rehearsals and choreography sessions building up to the audition and final performance were a learning experience for the both of us; they gave us a chance to unleash the creative choreographer within, and experiment with many new dance moves. A huge thank you must definitely go to the head team for all the behind-the-scene organization that took place to ensure rehearsals took place efficiently; whilst they maintained their professionalism, rehearsals were relaxed, fun, and became like “bonding sessions” for all the performers, which was a huge part of what made the experience so memorable. This also allowed us a chance to learn from each other’s talent — whether it was achieving over-splits, new dance tricks, ribbon-twirling… everyone had something to offer.
However, the making of this wonderful performance did not just happen with the performers. The backstage crew and technical team worked wonders as the glue for the show. From the tedious task of noting down sound and lighting requirement for every single act, to ensuring the tracks were in the correct order in the rehearsals getting closer to the final day, there was no room for error, yet they remained extremely professional and dedicated. In fact, I also ended up learning more about the lighting booth when it came to designing the lighting efforts for my own performance!
Amidst all this, the final rehearsals before the show helped remind all of us how we have made a difference to the Arts for Disabled Association (ADA). Watching sand art up close and seeing someone with hearing impairment dance are only some of the many moments that I will remember, because this performance showed how much the SIS community are willing to help organisations like ADA.
There was no denying the stress in everyone to make sure they performed to their best, and it was equally as important to enjoy every moment on stage, but all the performers were so supportive of each other that I found it was an easy task to relax on stage. My performance finished in the blink of an eye because I was enjoying it so much! Of course, another thank you must go towards the extremely supportive audience.
Overall, International Evening 2016 was an event that encompassed true SIS initiative, alongside plenty of laughter and goofing off. I am already looking forward to the 2017 performances!