ChildAid to feature acrobats and gynmnasts

When Ariadna Padron Yassin sang at ChildAid 2011 as a nine-year-old, she was a bundle of nerves.

"I was very nervous. I was shaking," says Ariadna, now 11, on taking to the stage then for the charity concert.

That experience helped her overcome stage fright and become more confident, she adds. It also gave her a taste of what it means to be a professional performer. "I learnt about being backstage, how you are supposed to behave.

"You must be disciplined, come on time, listen to the stage manager," she adds.

The New Town Primary School Primary 5 pupil now aims to get into the School of the Arts to pursue theatre or music. She is also back to showcase her vocals for this year's edition of the annual charity concert on Dec 6 and 7.

Intensive rehearsals started on Tuesday at the Singapore Press Holdings' Media Centre in Genting Lane. Ariadna and four other young female vocalists have been practising a medley of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, It's A Small World and Lollipop.

While the children take singing their own parts seriously, they also enjoy light-hearted moments during rehearsals. At times, two of the youngest vocalists - Anne-Sophie Cazaubon, six, and Akira McLatchie, seven - bopped to the background music, jumping up from their seats and breaking into an impromptu dance.

The cast of 130 performers for the carnival-themed concert - featuring aerial acrobats, gymnasts, musicians, vocalists - will be backed by a 33-piece orchestra.

About 10 per cent of the performers are former performers such as Ariadna. Marrying their love for performing with a meaningful cause is what draws them, they say. Among them is Andrew Sanjay George, 16, from Kuala Lumpur, who sang in ChildAid 2009. He will perform this year as part of KL-based a cappella group, The 4 Of Us.

Another ChildAid alumnus, Republic Polytechnic student Jerry Ng, 17, was part of a group song-and-dance act in 2008. This year, he and two other male vocalists - Timothy Ng, 18, and Divesh Subaskaran, 15 - will cover songs by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Tracy Chapman, as well as dance track Titanium by David Guetta.

Jerry describes the act as a spontaneous collaboration: The performers were sharing with one another their favourite tunes during a two-day workshop conducted by the ChildAid committee to identify the songs and parts which vocalists will sing, as well as on basic singing and dance techniques.

He says of performing for ChildAid: "It's a good way to do what I like and help people. Doing music is not about yourself. It's about sharing with people."

The concert raises money for The Straits Times School Pocket Money, which helps students from low-income families pay for transport to school and meals at recess, and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, a programme under The Old Parliament House which provides lessons in music or the arts for underprivileged children and teens.

ChildAid is jointly organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times. The main sponsors are Citi Singapore and HSBC. Tickets for the 110-minute show went on sale last Friday.

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