As we reach the garages of the F1 Pit Building, there is an inherent fervour in the atmosphere. The building served as the venue for the preview of the upcoming Chingay 2023 parade, but while the action had yet to start, things were already getting busy.
The garage housed the Rabbits Art-Venture Installation, made by over 2,000 students from eight schools and institutions. As you might be able to tell from the name, rabbit figures were the main showpiece; made from cardboard and decorated with the imagination of thousands of students. When we collected our badges, we were invited to tour the area as we awaited the commencement of the preview.
Scuttling about were students from the various schools, all busy preparing their installation ahead of their public viewing from 5 to 9 February. All manner of art tools could be seen around the garage — paint, markers, stickers, and more. The students themselves were carefully staging their rabbits to ensure that they looked good for viewing.
The overall theme for the Rabbits Art-Venture Installation was “Future Singapore”, but as we walked around the space, we were surprised to see how diverse it was presented to be by the students. Each installation had its own interpretations, with some focusing on Hawker Centres, HDB Blocks, and the students’ version of our Singapore Armed Forces.
As you might expect, the little cardboard rabbit served to be stand-ins for people as they populated the world of each school’s installation and given how uniquely vibrant each rabbit was. It was a cute little nod to Singapore’s own diversity. But it wasn’t all just small bunnies. Standing tall alongside them were some human-sized hares, also intricately decorated. Truly, it signalled the Year of the Rabbit.
It was a sight to see how creative these students from the different schools could be. Luckily for us, we could also join in the fun. Right at the front of the garage were a few tables with paper-folded rabbits. One of the ladies there beckoned for us to try our hand at designing our own ‘bunny from the future’.
“You can showcase your finished rabbit here for the installation, too!” she teased.
Providing some paint markers and stickers, we tried our hand at painting one too. Unfortunately, we aren’t exactly the most creative of people ourselves —a Banksy this was not. Suffice it to say, our final design didn’t look as good as some of the other rabbits on show, but we had fun nonetheless. It only solidified our respect for how imaginative and engaged the students were in creating their exhibits.
We were soon called towards the main performing area for Chingay 2023; the preview was set to begin. On the way over to the main stage, we caught a glimpse of some of the many mini-parade floats that would be roving during the actual parade. Many of the designs were flashy and colourful — having the likes of astronauts, butterflies and lanterns as visual features — and made for a captivating sight.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see them light up in earnest for the preview, but we don’t doubt that it would be a spectacle to see in full motion for the actual parade.
Before we got to see what Chingay 2023 had in store, we sat down for a fireside chat with some segment leaders and personnel from the People’s Association (PA). Joining the conversation were People’s Association (PA) Directors, Kia Siang Wei (EXCO Chairperson) and Tan Swee Leng (EXCO Vice Chairperson), Javier Ong from Urban Sports (Choreographer of ACT 2), Neo Ren Jie from Taneo Dance Academy (Contingent Leader for ACT 6 – Finale), and Camille Lesslar of the Lesslar family (Chingay Community Star 2023).
Talking us through the different aspects of this year’s Chingay, the panel enthusiastically discusses the return to the F1 Pit Building for the live performance, having previously had online and hybrid versions for the past two years.
Some of the segments this year included acts such as but not limited to Longboarding, BMX, dances, skits, band performances and much more; some of which were shown for the preview, but more about that later.
The return to a full-fledged live performance was a key topic during the chat. Mr Kia and Ms Tan echoed the importance of immersing people in the experience of Chingay, especially given the last two editions being scaled back. Meanwhile, Javier was keen on showcasing urban sports to the public for this year’s Chingay to ignite their passion for it. Camille was excited at the prospect of performing alongside her family, highlighting her brother’s talent as one to look out for. Mr Neo also spoke about his immense excitement at having a large group of performers for the parade.
Wrapping up the fireside chats, we were ushered to our seats for the preview of the parade; how exciting! The preview was a truncated version that would be premiering on the actual parade days but aimed to still present the essence of the show.
The show starts with a skit of three rabbits, most notably spearheaded by the Boss, who is played by Hossan Leong. He, Smart Rabbit (Siti Khalijah), and Cute Rabbit (Dwayne Lau) are leading the community of BunnyMoon to Chingay as they set out to answer the question: “How can we make our community happier?”.
The Journey to Chingay sees the bunny population break into a song and dance number about who they are — bunnies, rabbits, and hares, as they say. While the opening skit may have been a little awkward personally for our enjoyment, the dance routine certainly did make up for it.
When they reach Chingay, the rabbit trio are astounded by what they see, amplified by the first highlight, the appearance of The Lesslars – Chingay 2023’s Community Star. Together, the family performs their original composition, ‘Shine like a Star’. This set the tone for the preview with Camille’s soothing vocals, Craigston’s catchy drum beats, and parents Chris and Monica’s energetic guitar performance. It certainly got the crowd excited.
After their exit, we were treated to some urban sports with a team of longboarders, skateboarders, and BMX bike stunt performers wheeling out from the shadows to perform several thrilling stunts and tricks for us to enjoy.
The next scene sees the Boss Rabbit lost in finding how to make his community happier, but soon he is picked up by a mysterious lady, played by local singer and songwriter Amni Musfirah. Together, they sang the theme song for Chingay this year — “Embrace Tomorrow” — a rallying ballad that instils a great sense of fearlessness for what is to come and to build a brighter future. It sent goosebumps down our spine with the great vocals and encouraged the crowd to sing along!
The preview wraps up with a final big dance sequence featuring the bunny populus and performers signifying the various local and foreign communities, adorning different vibrant costumes that feature their cultural roots. Amidst the backdrop of the moving floats and remixed theme song being played, it made for an incredibly immersive experience. A great way to end the night!
Chingay 2023’s preview may have only been just a snippet of the actual show, but we felt the immense commitment and enthusiasm from the community of performers as they sang and danced their hearts out. We most definitely can’t wait to see what they have in store for 3 and 4 February!
For more information on the full list of activities for Chingay 2023, see our coverage article about the upcoming parade.
If you are interested in checking out Chingay 2023 like us, be sure to get your tickets from SISTIC! For more updates ahead of the parade on 3 and 4 February, follow the official website or social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
Photos by Russell Loh and Glenton Weng of the DANAMIC Team.