June 24, 2020
Photos and Words by: Caroline Chia & Bryan van der Beek

W

hile some of us have found new hobbies during the circuit breaker, many of our artists have used their time to rehearse and hone their craft. Performances may have been postponed indefinitely, but we learn that once a performer, always a performer as three artists, Mdm Maria Yao, a Chinese opera performer, Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran, a classical Indian dancer and Mr Jonathan Ngeow a ruan player with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) take to their new stage – their homes. 

1. In Focus: Mdm Maria Yao

Mdm Maria Yao, 59, was due to perform in Tang Renaissance’s Shanghai Yue Opera Appreciation Night at the end of June, but the show has now been rescheduled to November. She has been an opera performer for over 20 years, and with Tang Renaissance for the last five years. With the current restrictions on gatherings, Mdm Yao has had to practise opera movements and singing alone at home, instead of rehearsing with the troupe. Photo by: Caroline Chia

Mdm Maria Yao, 59, was due to perform in Tang Renaissance’s Shanghai Yue Opera Appreciation Night at the end of June, but the show has now been rescheduled to November. She has been an opera performer for over 20 years, and with Tang Renaissance for the last five years. With the current restrictions on gatherings, Mdm Yao has had to practise opera movements and singing alone at home, instead of rehearsing with the troupe. CAROLINE CHIA

2. In Focus: Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran

Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran, 27, has been taking dance classes at Bhaskar’s Arts Academy since she was six years old. With lessons now cancelled, she participates in weekly online classes where they practise hand and leg movements, but it is the lack of meeting her fellow dancers in person that Ms Ahtherai misses the most. “I’m sad that there isn’t the same human interaction. Online classes can never replace the real thing. Dancing is not just about the art. This is both a social and therapeutic routine for me; something that I look forward to weekly,” said Ms Ahtherai, who works as a nurse. Photo by: Caroline Chia

Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran, 27, has been taking dance classes at Bhaskar’s Arts Academy since she was six years old. With lessons now cancelled, she participates in weekly online classes where they practise hand and leg movements, but it is the lack of meeting her fellow dancers in person that Ms Ahtherai misses the most.
“I’m sad that there isn’t the same human interaction. Online classes can never replace the real thing. Dancing is not just about the art. This is both a social and therapeutic routine for me; something that I look forward to weekly,” said Ms Ahtherai, who works as a nurse. CAROLINE CHIA

3. In Focus: Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran

Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran has been a company dancer with Bhaskar’s Arts Academy for close to eight years. While she is grateful for the online classes, collaborating with musicians and getting choreography right takes a lot more time these days. Her show in July has been cancelled but she is hoping that the one in early October will still go as planned. Photo by: Caroline Chia

Ms Ahtherai Rashasegaran has been a company dancer with Bhaskar’s Arts Academy for close to eight years. While she is grateful for the online classes, collaborating with musicians and getting choreography right takes a lot more time these days. Her show in July has been cancelled but she is hoping that the one in early October will still go as planned. CAROLINE CHIA

4. In Focus: Mr Jonathan Ngeow

Mr Jonathan Ngeow

Mr Jonathan Ngeow, 30, practises playing the zhong ruan daily in his room at home. The musician, who plays the da ruan with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), has not been able to practise or perform together with his orchestra since the start of the circuit breaker. BRYAN VAN DER BEEK

5. In Focus: Mr Jonathan Ngeow

Despite not practising with the orchestra, Mr Jonathan Ngeow and other members kept busy trying to innovate and recording pieces that are then streamed online. While not compulsory, he tells of how everyone has had to learn to embrace this new form of technology, and even conducts all his music classes with his students over the web. Photo by: Bryan van der Beek

Despite not practising with the orchestra, Mr Jonathan Ngeow and other members kept busy trying to innovate and recording pieces that are then streamed online. While not compulsory, he tells of how everyone has had to learn to embrace this new form of technology, and even conducts all his music classes with his students over the web. BRYAN VAN DER BEEK

Read more about how Arts and Heritage groups are coping during Covid-19 in Singapore in Part 1 – Keeping Singapore’s Arts and Heritage Alive and Part 3 – “We Have Not Been Sitting Idle”: Arts Groups Persevere Through Digitalisation and Innovation


Watch The City of Good Show: Saving Our Charities, premiering June 24, every Wednesday at City of Good’s Facebook page. This live stream variety show supports charities from various sectors including arts and heritage, children and youth, disability, and social service. These groups have suffered up to an 80% drop in donations because of the postponement or cancellation of physical fund-raising events. Expect appearances from Singapore’s top talents, Selena Tan, Pam Oei, Siti Khalijah, and Ghafir Akbar entertain, with guests Hossan Leong, Rishi Budhrani, Neo Swee Lin, Lim Kay Siu, Koh Chieng Mun, Chua En Lai, Suhaimi Yusof, and Kumar.

Play your part and support the charities at Giving.sg – The City of Good Show: Arts & Heritage


The Storytellers

  • Bryan is still trying to figure a way to combine his three main loves. Can anyone help him figure out how to balance his whole family on a motorbike while riding and taking photographs?

  • Caroline loves photography and trekking, and never turns down a trip to the mountains.

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