Parkour and more at street festival

Parkour and more at street festival
Learn to navigate the urban landscape with acrobatic moves in parkour (above) or shimmy like a bellydancer.

Feel like learning how to leap acrobatically over barriers to get to your destination? Want to find out how bellydancers make art out of wiggling their hips? You can do all that and more at an ongoing festival.

Performers, artists and sports enthusiasts come out to play in the 13th annual Singapore Street Festival, an event that celebrates youth and street culture.

Highlights of this year's line-up of 18 events include parkour - a sport which trains people to move efficiently from one point to another by utilising their body's abilities and the environment - urban freestyle street football, bellydance and Japanese rock. The event runs till July 6 over four weekends.

This year, for the first time, there will be a full event dedicated to parkour, Urban Live Free - A Parkour Generation.

Performance company Ashton Movements Agency, which took part in last year's National Day Parade, will be showing parkour tricks and tips to the public at the showcase at Bugis Junction today and tomorrow.

The public can try the sport under the guidance of professionals and learn new moves safely. The set-up includes scaffolding up to 3m tall and metal bars.

Festival founder Annie Pek wants to make parkour a bigger highlight this year to cater to the growing popularity of the fast-paced discipline. "I want to provide better understanding of this sport beyond just the notion that it's dangerous," she says.

Another sports-related event is the Urban Freestyle & Panna Street Football competition and workshop. These forms of street football involve planned and synchronised moves together with the handling of the ball.

Urban Freestyle Street Football is performed by a single person, while Panna Street Football involves two players trying to get the ball between each other's legs.

The Urban competition and workshop will be held today at Hougang Mall, where street football enthusiasts will battle it out - and spectators can catch the action.

The Panna competition and workshop will be held tomorrow. Registration is still open to public on the day of the workshops.

Vietnamese freestyle footballer Nam the Man, a world champion with more than eight years of professional experience, will be a mentor to freestyle football enthusiasts.

For musical acts, fans of Japanese rock should head to Bugis+ for one of the biggest annual J-rock events in Singapore.

Wow! The Street Festival Award 2014 - Jrock Band Competition will be held there today from noon to 9pm, with eight bands competing for the top spot.

Several other soloists and bands will also be performing in the D'J Party Concert tomorrow from noon to 9pm.

More than 2,000 participants are involved in the festival. With the variety of platforms it offers, Ms Pek wants to encourage young people to share their talents and creativity.

"The Singapore Street Festival lets youths make the events different and original with their creative ideas and new approaches," she says.

Enthusiasts of bellydancing - another hobby growing in popularity here - have not been forgotten. Ms Anastasia Biserova, a world champion bellydancer from Russia, is excited to be invited to the festival for the second time. She will perform, judge and teach at the Asia Global Bellydance events from July 3 to 6.

For the bellydance master, it is an opportunity to share her passion for the dance form and encourage its growth here.

She says: "Bellydancing is very popular among young women because it helps to make them feel graceful and feminine. I will try to bring the latest trends in bellydance to Singapore."

Aside from giving urban and youth culture a platform, the festival lets young people "meet new friends with similar passions", says Ms Pek.

This sentiment is echoed by local J-rock band Quis, one of the performing groups at the D'J Party Concert. They have been participating in the Singapore Street Festival since 2008.

"The event is almost like a big annual gathering for us to meet like-minded individuals," says 26-year-old bandmember Sean Lim, who is also the youth leader organising the D'J Party event.

This article was first published on June 21, 2014.
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