Ashleigh, Ritz, Rhys, Thivieya and Schoolmates
Forging An Unbreakable Bond
Now 16-year-olds, Ashleigh, Thivieya, and brothers, Ritz and Rhys, reminisce on the impact of their 2019 Chingay performance on their personality, friendships and appreciation for multi-cultural Singapore.
In 2019, these four students entered Christ Church Secondary School, and faced the challenge of making new friends. Amidst this began their 2-month-long preparation for Chingay.
All were first-time participants in Chingay 2019, and for Ashleigh and brothers Ritz and Rhys, their participation was what introduced them to the event. However, Thivieya had seen her sister perform in Chingay 2016 and was excited for her turn to do the same.
The foursome shares the perception that Chingay unites people.
Ashleigh elaborates, “We used to wait in a big white tent for practices to start. I think that was when the bonding started. We would sit in our classes and start conversations, and through these conversations and games like Truth or Dare, we forged friendships that made the whole Chingay experience even more memorable.”
Ashleigh also noted the little acts of kindness that brought the students closer.
“The dancers in the roles of fireflies had see-through umbrellas — which weren’t very useful for shading from the sun especially when some rehearsals were held in afternoons at the F1 pit. What inspired me was when I saw people who had opaque umbrellas shading those who had clear ones from the sun,” Ashleigh recounts.
Thivieya sees Chingay as a true reflection of colourful Singapore.
“[Singapore] is known as a diverse country with a lot of combinations of multiple nationalities. Chingay brings people of different cultures and races together, and shows off the different cultures in a beautiful way.”
Diamonds made under pressure
Bonding and multicultural showcase aside, the preparation period for a Chingay performance can be quite challenging. The students recall having to balance their school commitments with long rehearsals that often ran late into the evenings.
Thivieya shares, “Based in Malaysia, I used to commute to Singapore. The preparations for Chingay would end very late so my dad had difficulties picking me up every time. My only choice was to stay in Singapore and deal with the schedules,”
For Ritz and Rhys, performing at Chingay helped them discover more about themselves in more ways than one.
Ritz explains, “My brother and I are not dancers but we were both interested in this opportunity to perform for the first time in front of an audience. Chingay made me step out of my comfort zone to perform and showcase my dance skills.” Fast learner Ritz also took it upon himself to teach fellow first timers the dance steps he knew.
For Rhys, something about Chingay made him blush initially. “Guys had to wear makeup – put on lipstick. I didn’t really like makeup. I tried to remove it, but they made me put it back on.” Rhys eventually saw the positive side of things. “Though we didn’t know each other well, Chingay made our class come together, interact with each other, and socialise,” Rhys adds.
Despite the challenges in preparation, the foursome feel that their school did well to ensure a less stressful experience for the students. They were allowed to report later on some school days so they could rest after late rehearsals.
We also asked friends to teach us the dance steps when we were having difficulties, and these efforts helped make things easier too,” Ashleigh shares.
Recognising the importance of a team, Rhys sums up his Chingay experience: “It’s all about teamwork. If you work together you can cope with setbacks. But if you stand solo, it is a lot harder.”
Hopes and Dreams for Chingay
As for the future of Chingay, Ritz and Rhys emphasised the importance of showcasing Singapore’s rich history and traditions while moving with the rapidly evolving times.
“I wish for Chingay to be a bit more futuristic but also to keep up on our traditional culture so that our future generations won’t forget our traditions,” says Ritz.
Rhys echoes, “I hope Chingay continues to cultivate a tradition to pass down to future generations so that no one will forget our past and what we’ve been through.”
On the other hand, Thivieya and Ashleigh spoke of the role Chingay had in celebrating multicultural Singapore and hoped that this would continue for years to come.