What's buzzing at the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018

Chermaine Leong (Honeycombers)

The return of SIFA this year guarantees lots of music, dance, and visual treats for everyone.

There’s never an end to the artsy things you can do in Singapore, and we’re not just referring to the art jamming sessions, terrarium how-to-dos, or jewellery making workshops. Into its 41st year, the highly anticipated Singapore International Festival of Arts takes place from 26 April to 12 May 2018, which means a full 17 days of highlights. There’s plenty to see and do at this pinnacle arts event, beginning with a weekend of exciting activities and ending with a rousing jazz performance at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Want the full deets? Here’s a complete list of highlights.


Catch an award-winning adaptation of 1984. Photography: Shane Reid

Headlining heavyweights that pack a punch

SIFA’s opening acts are not to be missed and here’s why: some of the biggest performances include an award-winning theatrical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 (26 to 29 April); an evening of poetry (27 and 28 April) with Indian film and TV superstar Shabana Azmi and renowned poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar; and a jazz concert by two-time Grammy winner Jacob Collier (27 and 28 April).

Don’t miss: Music and dance lovers will find themselves entertained by the free outdoor events at the Empress Lawn. Watch out for …Sodade… (27 to 29 April), an aerial circus performed to live music by theatrical troupe Cirque Rouages, and a diverse range of other music showcases.


Unearth ancient stories hidden in Singapore’s oldest Christian church. Photography: Karnan Balakrishnan

The human spirit takes the spotlight

Inspirational works are aplenty at this year’s edition. First, we have TAHA (4 and 5 May), a piece about the late poet Taha Muhammad Ali’s compelling life journey as a Palestine refugee. Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (11 and 12 May) is a gritty take on a man’s pursuit of truth against the state. For a dose of local talent, A Dream under the Southern Bough – The Beginning by Toy Factory Productions (30 April and 1 May) is a modern adaptation that reconstructs the Ming Opera epic by 16th century playwright Tang Xian Zu. How’s that for culture?

Don’t miss: There are a couple of site-specific performances at Singapore’s national monuments. For instance, you can go on a theatrical journey through the National Gallery Singapore at 0600 by Ground Z-0 or immerse yourselves in the lives of various real and imagined characters at the 180 year-old Armenian Church at The Hidden by Karmini Ramachandran.


The Blues Project brings together some of the world’s best tap artists, musicians and choreographers in this dynamic collaboration. Photography: Em Watson

Check out smooth moves…

No arts festival is complete without funky beats and flashy dance moves. There’s The Blues Project (8 and 9 May), a collaborative showcase featuring tap artists, musicians, and choreographers such as acclaimed dancer Michelle Dorrance, singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon and choreographer Derick K. Grant. Ballet Preljocaj’s Playlist #1 (9 and 10 May) is a retrospective of French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj’s best works over 20 years – a must for every dance fan. If you still can’t get enough of contemporary dance performances, OCD Love (5 and 6 May) created by  Sharon Eyal, formally from Batsheva Dance Company,  and Gai Behar is both a visual and aural treat. The piece was inspired by Neil Hiborn’s spoken word poem of the same title, with techno beats by musician DJ Ori Lichtik.

Don’t miss: POP-UP Duets (fragments of love), a series of eight dance duets inspired by the theme of love. Keep your eyes peeled for these pop-up performances happening from 25 to 29 April, or like SIFA’s Facebook and Instagram pages to find out where the performers will “pop-up”!


Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower: A genre-defying work that harnesses two centuries of Black American music in a post-apocalyptic story of survival through song. Photography: Waleed Shah

…And super cool grooves

Octavia E. Butler’s dystopian novel Parable of the Sower (4 and 5 May) gets a groovy update with African-American tunes by singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon. On the classical front, contemporary composer Nico Muhly headlines his eponymous concert, Nico Muhly Speaks Volumes (12 May). Flanked by Singaporean musicians Lim Yan and Ramu Thiruyanam, this triple-threat performance is one to watch.

Don’t miss: The festival ends with a big band concert by the Duke Ellington Orchestra (12 May) at the Botanic Gardens. A free jazz performance under the stars? You bet we’ll be there!

All psyched for the arts? Grab your tickets from SISTIC or visit the SIFA website for more details. 

Original article here

  • 2018