Chinese arts in the forefront


Before hearing of Huayi, my knowledge of Chinese arts and culture was limited to Mandopop singers like Jay Chou, and secondary school Chinese dance troupes – but I’m starting to see that there’s a wider world out there, just waiting to be discovered.

Enter Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts.

Held at the Esplanade, Huayi is an annual arts festival featuring the best of Chinese artistic expression. Through dance, drama, music and visual arts, it’s an exploration of heritage in this modern world, a display of Chinese art forms like never seen before. It runs from 12 – 21 Feb, giving you 10 days of incredible art.

Whether you’re looking to get back in touch with your roots, or just for things to do this Chinese New Year, Huayi is the place to go if you’re looking to experience something different. Here are 8 things at Huayi 2016 that you should totally check out.


1. Listen to Chinese indie music for the first time ever


Photo by Dawn Wong

Indie music is all the rage now, but most of us don’t give a thought to bands outside our usual sphere, especially those in other languages like Mandarin.

Huayi 2016’s three-part in::music series features some of the most inspiring Chinese indie musicians of our time, performing their original compositions. It starts off with the soulful tunes of Taiwanese band Hello Nico, followed by the powerful lyrics behind pop-folk musician Fang Wu’s compositions, and the melodic voice of homegrown singer-songwriter Dawn Wong. They all have different styles, but they’re all a delight to hear.

If you’re looking to become a musical connoisseur and expand your iTunes library, try treating your ears to something different that also lends support to these independent musicians.

in::music – Hello Nico: Familiar Desolation
Date: 12 Feb 2016
Time: 7:30 pm
Ticket Price: $30
Click here to find out more!

in::music – Fang Wu
Date: 15 Feb 2016
Time: 7:30 pm
Ticket Price: $30
Click here to find out more!

in::music – Dawn Wong & The Ark Royal: The Adventures of Marco Lopo
Date: 16 Feb 2016
Time: 7:30 pm
Ticket Price: $30
Click here to find out more!


2. Find out what would happen if Shakespeare were Chinese



“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

We’re all familiar with Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. It’s a tale of witchcraft, war, and murder; and it’s also something most of us had to study for Literature in secondary school. This Eastern take transforms a dramatic tragedy into a witty satire, infused with Chinese motifs.

It’s pretty much what you envisioned would happen if Shakespeare had written the play for the Chinese Emperor instead – the storyline remains the same, only this time it’s filled with Eastern aesthetics. An Eastern rendition of this Scottish tale of intrigue will reel you in for a captivating show.

Date: 16-18 Feb 2016
Time: 8:00 pm
Ticket Price: $35
Click here to find out more!


3. Treat your ears to a musical fusion of East & West


It seems bizarre to juxtapose a traditional Chinese instrument like the guzheng with a Western one like the piano, but that’s exactly what Hong Kong fusion band SIU2 does. Their concert, Sonic Traveler, crosses divides wrought by time and culture, creating a seamless aural experience that is the best of both worlds.

Whether you’re a fan of Chinese orchestra, or madly obsessed with James Blunt, this is without a doubt a musical fusion to behold.

Sonic Traveler
Date: 13 & 14 Feb 2016
Time: 7:30 pm (13 Feb), 2.30 pm (14 Feb)
Ticket Price: $35
Click here to find out more!


4. Bond with your kids while reconnecting with your roots


It’s important for kids to get in touch with their roots, so kill two birds with one stone and spend some time with them while they’re at it!

If you’re planning a day out with the kids, Huayi 2016 has a varied range of activities for little ones to participate in. Let them go on an interactive play adventure with The Magic Jungle, a theatrical performance chronicling the search for Hornbill’s missing feathers. Get ready for a journey filled with drama, music, and mysteries to be unravelled. It’s recommended for kids aged 2 to 4.

For those who want something a little more hands-on, Huayi’s got two parent-child workshops lined up as part of the festival. Learn how to perform cool tricks on a diabolo, a Chinese yo-yo, or try your hand at the fine art of traditional Chinese painting together with your children.

The Magic Jungle
Date:19-21 Feb 2016
Time: 9:30 am, 11:00 am & 4:00pm (19 Feb), 11:00 am, 2:00 pm & 4:00 pm (20-21 Feb)
Ticket Price: $18 | Package of 4: $64 (limited tickets available)
Click here to find out more!

Parent-Child Workshop: Fun with Diabolo
Date: 20 Feb 2016
Time: 10:30 am & 2:30 pm
Ticket Price: $24 (1 adult + 1 child) | $36 (1 adult + 2 children or 2 adults + 1 child)
Click here to find out more!

Parent-Child Workshop: It’s Springtime! – Fun with Chinese Ink Painting
Date: 21 Feb 2016
Time: 10:30 am & 2:30 pm
Ticket Price: $24 (1 adult + 1 child) | $36 (1 adult + 2 children or 2 adults + 1 child)
Click here to find out more!


5. Experience four great literary classics through MUSIC


We all know of great English classics like Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby, but we don’t give much thought to the iconic works of Chinese literature.

The four great classics of Chinese literature are Dream of the Red Chamber, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Water Margin, tales of strategic warfare and righteous men, of great romance and sharp wit. These stories are usually told through text or film, but why not experience them through music?

The Singapore Chinese Orchestra brings these stories to life through the evocative power of music. Featuring songs composed by some of China’s most influential composers, and supported by vocalists Wang Qing Shuang & Li Lie Gang, as well as the Tanjong Katong Secondary School and Alumni Choir – it’s an aural experience that’s thrilling, epic, and powerful all at once.

The Four Great Classical Novels In Concert
Date: 20 Feb 2016
Time: 7:30 pm
Ticket Price: $38, $58, $78
Click here to find out more!


6. Watch social media sensation Gong Linna live


Having risen to prominence when her performance of the song ‘Tante’ went viral and received 100 million views on social media. Since then, Gong Linna has become a household name in China. With her incredible vocals and mastery over a variety of incredibly different singing techniques, watching her perform feels like watching several different people sing from within the same body.

A powerful presence, Gong’s songs are influenced by traditional Chinese music, folk tales and ancient poetry. Her music is undeniably contemporary, but fixed firmly in tradition, being the musical equivalent of the old adage about remembering your roots.

Prepare to have your mind blown with her mystifying vocal prowess.

Gong Linna in Concert
Date: 14 Feb 2016
Time: 5:00 pm
Ticket Price: $38, $58, $78
Click here to find out more!


7. Witness a dance between a man and his robot


Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by stories about robots and the like. A robot was something I always wanted, and while that remains a dream of mine, it’s a reality for Taiwanese dancer Huang Yi.

Meet KUKA, Huang Yi’s companion, dance partner, and an original creation of his.

Huang Yi combines technology with dance, mixing mechanics with multimedia to create a surreal experience. It’s like a fusion of two completely different worlds – the solid structure of engineering, and the fluid nature of dance – creating a wondrous masterpiece.

The dynamic between the pair is hard to put into words, and it’s a visual spectacle that you’ll have to experience for yourself.

Huang Yi & KUKA
Date: 12 & 13 Feb 2016
Time: 8:00 pm (12 Feb), 2:30 pm, 8:00 pm (13 Feb)
Ticket Price: $35
Click here to find out more!


8. Immerse yourself in a blend of percussion and meditation


Percussion and meditation sound like two things that belong on opposing ends of the relaxation spectrum, but acclaimed Taiwanese drumming performance group U-Theatre melds the two together in a magical journey.

In a performance both musically enchanting and profound, U-Theatre mixes the art of dance with drumming, creating an experience that’s both aural and visual for their audience. Moving in perfect synchrony, the steady beats of the drums create a sense of peace, and an almost spiritual grounding.

For an experience that’s a feast for the eyes, and a balm for the soul, head over to Beyond Time.

Beyond Time
Date: 12-14 Feb 2016
Time: 8:00 pm (12- 13 Feb), 2:30 pm (14 Feb)
Ticket Price: $38, $58, $88, $118
Click here to find out more!


All this and so much more!


If you want to find out more about what Huayi has got lined up for you, head over to their website for the full selection of music, drama, and fun for the entire family.

Not only that, there are plenty of different programmes held during Huayi 2016, so you can treat yourself to a whole range of activities from talks to storytelling sessions. There’ll be something new for you to discover every day of the festival, and the best part is – most of them are free!

Photo (top right) by Ejun Low

There are also lots of free performances going on at the Esplanade’s Concourse, Outdoor Theatre, and Forecourt Garden. From lion dances to getai singers, and Chinese chamber music to singer-songwriter performances – there’s bound to be something here for everyone in the family! You could even try your hand at learning basic Chinese dance moves, or making your own heart knot bracelet.

Check out the full list of free programmes here!

There are lots of reasons to huat at Huayi, and plenty of things to do for fun and enriching February. So go forth and have a blast. Huat ah!

Huayi – Chinese Festival Of Arts runs from 12 – 21 Feb 2016 at the Esplanade.

Photos Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.


This post is brought to you by Huayi – Chinese Festival Of Arts.