The heat of the Youth Olympic Games is on. Being the event of the year for Singapore, many volunteers of different backgrounds and expertise have been roped in to turn in the best performance for the inaugural YOG. A number of CHC members from various backgrounds, including dance, percussions and a few others were involved, and among them is a familiar face—Lucas Chia.
As an actor and host who has been serving in CHC’s Drama Ministry for six years, Chia is no stranger to the stage and the screen. Besides a stint in the local teenage drama serial The Band that was aired on Okto Channel, he was one of the resident hosts for Kids’ Central’s Weekend Links in 2009. Upon receiving a call from Iskandar Ismail, the music director for the SYOG ceremonies, Chia prepared himself to perform in front of a panel of judges.
Chia is involved in two song and dance items; one for the opening ceremony and one for the closing ceremony. The YOG opening and closing ceremonies are estimated to have a viewership of close to two billion worldwide.
In preparation for his role, Chia had to go through more than 20 hours of vocal recording sessions, and choreography sessions three to four times a week for two to four hours each session, all within the three months leading up to the actual performance.
Despite the grueling training schedule, what he enjoyed most was the opportunity to make more friends in the media industry, such as Joakim Gomez and Faizal Isa from Singapore Idol and Huang Zhi Yang, winner of the first Campus Superstar. The team overseeing and managing his segment of the performance include veteran music directors and producers such as Iskandar Ismail, Ivan Heng, Aaron Khek, Elaine Lee, and Jack & Rai.
“I have no prior training in singing or dancing. The only form of song and dance would be the spoofs we do for our drama productions in church. I had to put in a lot of effort,” Chia recalls of the initial challenges he faced while preparing for the audition. He credits his family and friends for supporting him in what is to be his biggest gig, for the year, at least. He is especially thankful for the vocal and dance crash courses he received from the vocal and dance ministry teachers at church, namely Alison Yap, Mark Kwan, Sherlyn Chia, Gin Lam and Carol Chen.
Team Effort and Cameraderie
Also in the spotlight is Tng Hui Shan Coco, 15, who is involved in a dance performance for the Closing Ceremony. Part of a 800-strong dance team that practiced twice weekly for a month, she says, “I’m excited but at the same time nervous as the day is drawing closer!”
Another fellow dancer, Sarah Smith, 22, got involved in three items—the Opening Ceremony welcome dance, a pre-show performance as well as a b-boy segment, through O School. The hours were long, with a lot of waiting time in between practice for each segment, but it was time well spent with friends. Says Smith, “It was very inspiring to work with the dance team as I understand that the instructors were volunteers—it was very encouraging to see their whole-hearted commitment. The most fun part was to be with my friends. We shared a lot of good bonding time together, and I’ll miss the fun of it all when it’s over!”
For half-Swiss half-Singaporean teen Verena Schonenberger, 14, tasked with coaching the percussionists, the hours were similarly long, but the process itself was a satisfying one. “We had a lot of training, sometimes from morning till night. The 140 students were easy to teach, as they picked up the skills pretty fast—the students’ performance was better than I expected. We spent approximately five months in preparation, once to twice weekly.” Echoing her sentiments was fellow percussionist coach and performer Alan Lee, 21, “It was a whole new experience, having the opportunity to coach such a big-scale performance. Everyone gave their best, making each training session a fruitful one.”
Even those on the sidelines were caught up in the excitement. Says Lim Ziying, 15, who cheered for his torchbearing schoolmates for about half an hour with other friends from his CCA, it was an interesting experience underscored by the likelihood that it would be the one and only opportunity for him to witness the passing of the Torch up close. It was all about having a good time for Clarissa Loo, 18, also one of the motivators for the torchbearers. “I had fun at a school carnival while waiting for the torchbearers. Along with 5,000 other motivators, we formed a line to cheer the torchbearers on, using the party pack materials to add fun to the whole process.”
And then there are those who are more heard than seen. Fan Yuzhen, 26, is one of the over-100 sports presenters who are in charge of live voiceovers. Fan herself is presenting for wrestling and athletics. She is part of a 5-member team that has been attending presentation camps and practicing with deejay-actor Mark Richmond since last year. The job scope includes introducing athletes to the field, making announcements for the victory ceremonies and interacting with the crowd in between programs or matches. “We had to work with French announcers, thus there were a lot of rehearsals to make sure everything ran smoothly.” There are about 100 sports presenters, aged between 14 to 28.
Holding fort at one of the information desks located at the hotels accommodating the International Olympic Committee guests is Ong Bee Chin, 33, who is responsible for providing information about the games as well as Singapore to overseas tourists. As a production planner, she does not usually deal with people in her daily work, what more communicating with non-English speaking guests. “It’s a fresh experience for me,” she says.
|PHOTO COURTESTY OF MELODIES TAN
PHOTO: Lor Huiyun
A Sportsman Lives Out A Dream
Having participated in the 1973 SEA Games opening ceremony, avid sportsman and Chairman for the Paya Lebar Constituency Sports Club, Koh Siow Ngea found himself in the privileged position as one of the YOG torchbearers. “After so many years of involvement in the local sports scene, the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch is truly rewarding.”
In the lead up to the Games, Koh was in charge of organizing various sporting events and matches in conjunction with the People’s Association, to stir up momentum and excitement among the community. On what makes a successful YOG, he says, “It’s always about the three principles—Friendship, Excellence and Respect. It’s about helping our youth to build character instead of purely fueling the desire to win all the time. It’s about respecting different countries and cultures, and understanding the human values and characteristics that come into play as one engages in sports.”
What made it even more joyful were the many friends who had turned up to support Koh as he completed his segment of the relay past the Paya Lebar Community Centre.