SUPER 24: THE BEST YEAR YET?

“Every year is really the best year yet.” The intense competition that happened on the 14th and 15th of July between secondary schools and open teams was only the beginning. Read on as we recap the very best from the Prelims of SUPER24 2018 and what we definitely GOT to look out for at the Finals in August!

CHANGING TO FIT THE SCENE

The only 360-degree competition in Singapore is going big. “To hold it in the OCBC Arena itself is a milestone,” Carol Chen, producer of SUPER 24 2018 said. In conjunction with Youthx, a collaborative effort by National Youth Council (NYC) for SHINE Festival, it will be the very first time SUPER 24 will be held in such an iconic location – a step up from dancing in the middle of Orchard Road in 2015.  “It’s fresh and its new. Orchard Road had a raw energy to it, but the challenge of a new location (like OCBC Arena) and how to design it to be memorable for the dancers and audience alike is exciting.” 

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The Qualifiers were held in Tampines Hub this year, a step up from SCAPE* last year.

Many avid fans of SUPER 24 will know that SUPER 24 is known for its unpredictability,  changing up their format every year. This year is no different. Compared to last year,  we now see longer preparation time for the teams where they have a month to prepare for the Finals – as opposed to only a week last year.

This year’s Open Category – what dancers regard as the ultimate treat – will also include ASEAN teams from Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.  “NYC is involving many ASEAN teams in Youthx (in areas such as eGaming and music) this year, so it made sense for us to invite down ASEAN teams to compete as well,” Carol affirmed.

Aside from the addition of ASEAN teams in the Open Category, there is a surprising absence of Tertiary from the Preliminary round, leaving many fans scratching their heads at the change. “We try to move according to how the scene is currently. There were only seven teams that joined last year, so it was in response to that that we only have one round (Finals) this year,” Carol smiled, slightly amused. “But because it is only one round, it might have given schools more motivation to join.” Indeed, this year there is a whopping 17 tertiary schools competing in Finals this year.

With such an exciting preparation in store for both the dancers and audience, who exactly should we be looking out for this coming Finals?

SECONDARY CATEGORY

Due to overwhelming sign-ups, this year, the organisers have two divisions specifically to tackle that – the Red and White Division.

From past-year rankings, the schools that had previously joined were fairly divided according to their ranks, and schools that only joined this year were split into divisions via a live balloting on Facebook.

“We really want to provide all dancers with the full competition experience,” Carol expressed. And what a competition experience SUPER 24 gave indeed! With the 30-sec countdown timer SUPER 24 is notorious for, each division sought to crown the top three teams out of the finalists that will be advancing to the Finals.

On the variety of teams this year, Adrian Lorenzo, an active dancer and audience member commented: “The teams are very different choreography-wise.” Kay Grace Lee, judge of the Secondary Qualifiers agreed: “It’s great to see different genres and more schools getting involved.”

However, it was evident that despite the positive aspects of experimentation, there is still much to work on. “I feel a lot more choreographers are trying new things, which results in both good and just plain-out terrible results.” Adrian mused. Cherrilynn Chia, another dancer and spectator concede with that sentiment, mentioning that it “works for some and not so much for others.”

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One of our DOTMs, Kay is one of the many community-oriented judges chosen for this year’s SUPER 24. PC: Nina Nakamura

To these comments, Kay remains optimistic about the increase in experimentation. “Hopefully we will get to see ballroom and ballet soon!”

Nonetheless, one thing has not changed throughout the years. Teams that chose to include comedic or story element endeared themselves easily to both the judges and audience alike and usually score high in the rankings.

In both divisions, top teams had a concept and carried it through well. In the Red Division, Temasek Secondary teased the audience with a Thai spin-off on their dance, incorporating viral Thai dances and jokes into their routine. The laughter paid off well, as judges praised their performance as “cohesive and well thought-out”

Aside from dancing in their home-ground of Tampines, Tampines Secondary School from the White Division utilised the story plot of Avatar to enthral the audience and storm their way to 1st place in the White Division. The attention to detail, down to the colour coordination of the dancers were applauded by the judges and audiences alike.

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Emotion is one of the strong contenders this year, with teams trying out contemporary fused hip-hop storming their way into Finals.

However, Cherrilynn thought differently. When asked who she will look out for at the Finals, her choice was Bedok View Secondary who ranked 3rd in the Red Division. “As a team, they seemed very gelled. When I watched them, I actually got goosebumps. They were very united when they danced. Their vibe was the same. It was different and well put together.” Instead of using comedic elements or following a storyline, Bedok View chose to play on human emotion to carry through their performance. A very strong and interesting choice.

Indeed, Bedok View seems to have its own fan base, even with judges commending their performance, calling it very “emotive”. Receiving praise from the judges, the students soon broke down in disbelief and happiness. Madam Yogita, a proud parent of one of Bedok View’s dancers said: “This is my first time at a dance event and I am truly impressed with it. I hope they do well in the Finals too!”

OPEN CATEGORY

For the Open Category, the Qualifiers was a chance to figure out how strong the competition is this year, and the audience were not left disappointed. This year’s finalist teams are strong, diverse and should not be underestimated.

SUPER 24 is considered by many dancers as a platform for experimentation. From Swing Jazz to House and K-pop, the diversity in dance genres competing is widening.

But amidst the praise for the experimentation, one can hear lamentation. “It’s sad how these experimental styles are not making it to Finals.” Indeed, out of the teams that decided to experiment with styles, only one, Fisherman Friends with the style of Swing Jazz, made it to Finals.

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House is one of the newer styles of dance popularised in Singapore the past few years, and finally, they are on the SUPER 24 stage!

But not all the dancers felt it was a waste. “We definitely achieved one of our main goals, which is to bring and show what House dance is on a SUPER 24 stage,” Amilia, a dancer of Full House mentioned, the first-ever House team to compete at SUPER 24 is optimistic about the result. “It was really nice for us to come together and share our love for House. It’s crazy how we’re all made up of both old and new generations in the House dance community so, I guess it’s the start of something new!”

Despite the increase in experimentation, the trend of dancers seems to be leaning towards Urban Dance, a shift from previous years where Street Jazz dominated the charts under the reign of Limited Edition and Viktorias.

Remarking that he was “hoping to see a lot more innovative ideas with tighter dancing”, Zaki Ahmad, judge for SUPER 24 Open Preliminaries and well-known for his constructive yet blunt comments, had this to say: “There was a nice variety of ideas on display but (they were) a bit unbalanced in terms of execution. Some teams were technically great but not exciting to watch because they resorted to tried-and-tested formulas choreography wise. Some teams have a lot of heart and interesting ideas but not enough training or expertise.”

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This year’s Open Preliminaries see children advance to the Finals after ‘killing’ everyone with cuteness.

However, Zaki praised the experimental attempts, stating: “It is evident that this competition attracts a wide variety of genres and that dancers who take part are willing to explore and widen their knowledge.”

Echoing the same sentiment made by Kay about diverse genres earlier, Zaki exclaims: ” I am still waiting for a tap dancing team, or a ballet team doing pointe work or a Latin dance team to make their way to this competition though. That would be interesting!” Indeed, something to think about for future SUPER24 contestants maybe?

Undeniably, the significant increase in experimentation and skill is not lost on Carol, as she mentioned: “Humans are built to evolve and adapt, so not being stagnant, always growing and progressing is the human spirit.” These are words to take to heart as SUPER24 over the years have shown that “every year is really the best year yet”.

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The intensity of their performance rendered it difficult for the audience to move on to the next team.

Indeed, a great example of progression is the top finalist in the Open category, The Passionate Dancing Elders (TPDE). Comparing their performance a few years back to the one they presented at the Open Qualifiers, the significant jump in concept and thought that went into their performance should not go unnoticed. Brandon, a fellow finalist from MDZ declared: “I think the teams this year are incredibly strong, inspirational and creative. Teams like TPDE really touched my heart with the message they portrayed.”

Aishi, a fellow finalist from Willis Hood agrees with the sentiment, saying: “The dance scene has improved tremendously so the fire in every team is crazy. Every team has their own identity and it’s very refreshing to see some teams’ routine.”

Aishi went on: “This year the open category is inviting a few ASEAN teams for the finals. That’s going to be a big challenge to beat them.” Indeed, quite a number of dancers are nervous about this year’s open category as the teams invited down from other ASEAN countries possess Mega Crew experiences, something that the Singapore dance scene has yet to experience.

However, Carol believes otherwise. She believes that the inclusion of these ASEAN teams will definitely push the teams to do better. “It will be a good push for Singapore. Humans need challenges. The intricacy and innovation of the dancers and this competition will only blow our minds this Finals.” Carol declares excitedly.

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As if their item wasn’t powerful enough, Willis Hood intends on taking it to the next level at the Finals.

Undeniably, Carol is not the only one excited to see how the teams will fare at the Finals. Lee Xin Yi, a Tertiary Category competitor as part of EuRhythmix and audience at the qualifiers stated that she is most excited to see Willis Hood’s item: “Their execution and energy was amazing so I am just curious as to how they will make it better or how the additional 30 seconds will look like.”

So what can Willis Hood fans look out for? Aishi replied: “A lot more energy, a lot more fun, a lot more moments and definitely you all can look forward to a dope mix and a freaking dope routine.”

To the rest that are still worried about the Finals, Zaki has you covered: “I think variation is key as well as creating memorable ‘moments’ within the dance. Keep pushing boundaries and limits, explore more ideas and work on stronger technique and teamwork”.

Fight on Open finalists!

COMMUNITY

The past few years for the Singapore Dance scene has been all about Community. From the thought-provoking Project Home ran by Chris Martin and Larkin Poynton, to the Singapore Community Dance Camp with its intriguing workshops on what community really means, SUPER 24 is no exception.

Aside from the “alive and vibrant” dance scene that is reflected on the stage, one cannot ignore how much of a platform SUPER 24 serves as for a mass gathering of Singaporean dancers both on stage and off.  Ang Wen Yang, an audience member and dancer at NUS admitted: “That was the memorable part of this competition, to meet my friends and teachers, both on stage and off. It was a chance to see and talk to them again.”

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Despite not making it to Finals due to what many dancers regard as the “first-team curse“, SILATRC‘s unique concept stole many peoples’ hearts.

It was hard to ignore when Jin, emcee of SUPER 24, called out one of the members from the legendary Flair Brothers in jest: “You look familiar.” Or when sparks of recognition were exchanged when Solve It Like a Twisted Rubix Cube removed their masks after their performances. To see a choreographer run towards another team to embrace their friends for a job well done was not an uncommon sight.

In the Secondary School category, you can see even see different secondary schools running up to each other to congratulate or cheer them up. A significant example would be how Tampines Secondary went to hug Gan Eng Seng Secondary on stage after announcing the placings. Their choreographers from EV Dance organised regular Vetting sessions for the schools to allow them to bond and cheer each other on for the competition, a true community formed upon the bonds of the SUPER 24 journey. 

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Dancers in Singapore may form teams to compete against each other, but when we dance, we dance together.

Apart from the dancers themselves, the international judges for this year’s SUPER 24 were chosen not only due to their diversified experience in dance but also their strong conviction on community spirit.  Carol believes that the insight these judges will give at the Open Finals will be something to look out for, and will push the dancers to be even more united as they are now. “I mean, 24 is already a community.” Carol quipped.

If that is not community spirit at its finest, what is?

SUPER 24 Finals will be held at the OCBC Arena on the 4th and 5th of August 2018.

Missed the Qualifiers? Click here to watch them!

Want to watch the Finals in person? don’t worry! We got you. 

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