Nervous and excited: S’pore students on dancing with IU during K-pop star’s concert

At the concert of K-pop star IU (centre) on April 20, Maddspace students got to dance with the South Korean singer onstage. - MADDSPACE

SINGAPORE: Imagine getting a chance to dance with a K-pop star onstage in front of a crowd of thousands.

That came true for 12 students at South Korean singer IU’s concerts on April 20 and 21 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The girls from local performing arts studio Maddspace, which has two branches here, are aged eight to 14. They include eight Singaporeans, as well as a Malaysian, an Indonesian, a Japanese and a Vietnamese.

Halfway through the upbeat opening number Holssi, the children came onstage and joined IU for the second chorus. They got to groove with her for about 30 seconds, as she delivered the lines: “You say hoo, I may fly/you say hoo, then I fly.”

The oldest participant, 14-year-old Treia Tan, who attends St Margaret’s School (Secondary), told The Straits Times: “When we were onstage, there was an instance when IU made eye contact with me. I had to hold in my excitement.”

On the other hand, Kate Tay, 11, who attends Methodist Girls’ School (Primary), was nervous as she thought she would mess up the dance.

“But the smile on IU’s face made me feel super calm,” she said.

Another 11-year-old, Malaysian Katelynn Foo, who goes to North London Collegiate School (Singapore), said: “Being a K-pop star is one of my biggest dreams, and being on such a big stage inspires me to work harder. I will now take my singing and dance lessons more seriously.”

During another segment, the youngest girl, Vy Nguyen, got another chance to shine and had the stage to herself for about three minutes.

The eight-year-old Vietnamese was styled in a white dress as a younger version of IU, as she held a lit candle with both hands and knelt at the centre of the stage. The setting transformed from a thunderstorm into an idyllic rainforest, and Vy waved at the audience before a golden path of stars linked her to IU, who proceeded to sing the song Celebrity.

Vy, who attends St Joseph’s Institution International Elementary School, said: “It felt very good to wave and have the audience members wave back at me. It was a very exciting moment, and I am very grateful to be given such a special role in the show.”

She had worked with the concert’s producer over a few rehearsals, and was told to look innocent and kind onstage.

During these rehearsals, she initially felt very scared of the thunder and rain effects, but got used to them over time.

When the platform she knelt on started moving, Vy said she felt like a superstar. She added: “I always see superstars on moving platforms, so this moment was very exciting.”

Despite the fact that none of the girls spoke Korean, they said that IU’s team and dancers were very nice to them, even though the language barrier made it hard to communicate. Katelynn added: “There was a lot of waving and eye contact.”

Nan Hua High School’s Meredith Choo, 13, said: “We were in different Maddspace classes, but we got to know one another better through this, and I was happy that I got to make many new friends. It was very fun, and we had great chemistry.”

A few months ago, Maddspace was approached by the concert’s producers with the possibility of auditioning to be part of the concert. At the time, a few other dance studios were also being considered, but Maddspace was eventually chosen.

The 12 girls had to attend rehearsals once a week at the GR.iD Singapore Maddspace branch in Selegie, from 6.30 to 9.30pm.

Meredith recalled: “The rehearsals were most challenging for me because my choir practices at school usually lasted until 6pm. So I had to rush to rehearsals, then go home to have dinner and continue with my homework and revision for school. The concert was also during the exam period, so I had to manage my time well.”

But the sacrifices well worth it. She said: “This would probably be the biggest stage I get to perform on in my life.”

John Khoo, Maddspace’s 39-year-old chief executive and director, said more than 40 dancers from the studio auditioned for the 12 slots to dance with IU.

He added: “They did really well, and it was a very emotional moment for me when I saw them on stage. I teared and felt goosebumps at the same time.”

Maddspace provides classes in various disciplines, such as dance, singing, show choir and musical theatre, for students across a range of ages, from pre-school kids to adults.

This is not the first time its students have taken part in public events. On March 1, they opened the Taylor Swift-themed Bejeweled event at Jewel Changi Airport, singing and dancing to hits by the American superstar such as Me! (2019), Shake It Off (2014) and The Story Of Us (2011).

Some students have also participated in overseas talent competitions, such as the Chinese reality singing competition Let’s Sing Kids (2013 to 2018). - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , k-pop , IU , Maddspace , students , dance


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