O School’s dream of performing on a world-class stage comes true on Aug. 16 and 17 at Marina Bay Sands.
Come next month, O School’s dancers will be hopping, popping and leaping on the same stage that has housed Broadway musicals such as The Lion King and Wicked.
It is a dream come true for the seven-year-old school, a social enterprise aimed at creating sustainable livelihoods for dancers in Singapore.
O School was adopted by Marina Bay Sands as its charity of choice in 2012. The partnership has presented many exciting opportunities for the school, which includes performing to a packed crowd at MBS with Korean rap star Psy last year.
MBS launches its first Sands for Singapore Festival this August, and O School’s production Wonderment is a key item in the lineup. Touted as a “90-minute fanciful dance spectacle”, Wonderment will star over 80 young dancers. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to O School. What’s more, MBS will select a number of dance students from the school for a technical theater internship, during which the MBS team will impart to them valuable behind-the-scenes skills.
Sands for Singapore is MBS’s corporate social responsibility effort. “Marina Bay Sands is proud to be able to give back to our society in meaningful ways, imparting niche skills and inspiring the local youths through activities that are close to their hearts,” says MBS’ CEO George Tanasijevich in a press release.
“We have always dreamed of putting up a show like this—a full-length theatre-style production, almost like Cirque (du Soleil),” says Kenny Low, founder of O School. “To be able to fulfill that dream in Sands Theatre is amazing to us.”
Even before O School was set up, Low and his team traveled to Las Vegas to study the types of productions staged at top casinos. “Beyond the gaming, a very big component of Vegas’ [allure] is the show,” Low explains. “Every show is a big production, and so every production would engage many artists and creative people, creating jobs. That creates sustainability in the long term for the arts and for artists.” That became their vision for Singapore.
A WORK OF WONDERMENT
Wonderment tells the tale of a man who lives life in the fast lane. He meets a young boy who leads him into a world of whimsy where he experiences forgotten joys and loves. Even though he continues to struggle with present temptations, he begins to rediscover the little boy he used to be: a person who found contentment in simply being loved. As he gets in touch with who is truly is deep inside, the man is set free. Even as the storyline touches the soul, Wonderment is set to thrill and delight audiences with spectacular visual and audio effects.
Wonderment stars the O Crew, a collective of some of the most outstanding dancers from the Singapore dance scene, who cover genres from contemporary dance to hip-hop and funk. The O Crew has performed across the region and built up a reputation for high-impact performances.
The show will also feature two special guest stars. Amin Alifin is the winner at this year’s Gatsby Dance Competition Asia Grand Finals held in Tokyo, Japan. Next month he will be competing at the Singapore Dance Delight in Osaka, Japan with his partner Maggie Koh, as the duo Megamint.
The role of the little boy will be played by 13-year-old singing sensation Miguel Antonio, who has performed for the President of Singapore and the Philippines Ambassador to Singapore, and appeared on stage with maestro David Foster at the David Foster And Friends concert in 2011.
The concept for Wonderment came from Ryan Tan, the creative director of O School. Tan is a dance veteran who is a sought after performer and choreographer who has worked with pop stars and theatre groups.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
It was only in June this year that MBS confirmed the space to O School for the production. The timing was a little tricky—O School is holding another of its key events this Sunday, The Big Groove, just two weeks before Wonderment.
“My initial reaction was joy and excitement at such a rare and promising opportunity to stage a production on such a prestigious world-class stage, and what opportunities it could open the door to,” says Tan. “[Then] the reality of it hit me. We were not ready and time was short. With TBG happening just two weeks before, would our team be able to handle it? Would we be able to stand next to big names like The Phantom Of The Opera? Was I able to bring O School to its next level in such a short time?”
Low had his reservations, and suggested dropping The Big Groove. “But despite the doubt, somehow I had faith that we could, and should take on what was given to us. The staff shared the same conviction,” says Tan.
To make things even more challenging, Tan’s old slipped disc injury resurfaced and he could not walk properly. “I decided to go for a microdiscectomy to remove the broken shards of my spine that were pressing against my nerves,” he explains. His production team “stepped up and filled the gap,” with Tan giving macro directions and opinions to guide them through his vision for Wonderment.
“Wonderment is significant because it marks a beginning for us,” says Tan. “It has always been a vision and dream for us to create a show that would be commissioned for a season, and eventually be able to travel internationally as well.
“We are always standing for local talent at O School. This opportunity, to me, is like the first glimmer of our dream; the beginning of the rise of local dance.”
Wonderment plays at Sands Theatre,Marina Bay Sands, on Aug. 16 and 17, 7.30pm. Tickets at S$55 and S$45 are available through www.MarinaBaySands.com/Ticketing and tel +65 6688 8826.