Jam-packed art festival

Kakiseni International Arts Festival launch. 16 Sept 2014 CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

LOCAL arts platform Kakiseni’s five-day International Arts Festival concluded with a bang, marking both Malaysia Day and the end of the festival with a street parade around Jalan Bukit Bintang and other performances in and out of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

The short parade was flagged off by Kuala Lumpur City Hall mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib at Pavilion KL’s fountain area, where the festival’s outdoor performances and the “Listening Tree” were held.

Bemused tourists and mall-goers stood around and took pictures as the Kakiseni volunteers, clad in red or black T-shirts and guided by Rela volunteers, made their way to Fahrenheit 88 and performed a flash mob.

After passing Lot 10 and walking down Jalan Walter Grenier back to Pavilion KL, other acts included in the five-day festival mixed around the crowd as tourists and locals alike took pictures with buskers and puppeteers.

Canadian performer Akron the Bizarre (real name Akron McKenzie) had the crowd gathering by the fountain gasping in awe and laughing by turns with his physical brand of comedy and acrobatic skills.

Meanwhile, inside, queues formed as people waited to catch the last of the “Black Box” theatrette’s performances, erected right in the centre of Pavilion KL.

Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen said the effort to set up this second International Arts Festival began right after the inaugural festival ended on May 1 last year and took a year.

“You want to keep the content fresh, and arrange the schedules and logistics for performers and artists to be able to come and give their best.

“One reason we had the final day coincide with Malaysia Day was because I believe performing arts can become a unifying tool like sports, hence the multicultural performances we have put up,” said Low.

Malaysian groups such as the Aswara Dance Company and Reka Art Space shared the Black Box theatrette with European and Australian acts such as TAMTAM Objektentheater (Netherlands) and Stuart Bowden.

These performances ranged from puppet shows by Argentinean Roberto White, a monologue presented by Ayaq Hangat and even an act involving everyday household tools.

It was not just performances, as the festival also had artists and groups holding workshops where exchange of knowledge took place.

Outdoors, the “Listening Tree”, according to Low, was also an effort to bring art to the less-privileged and urban poor.

“Here you have various tags with wishes written by the urban poor children. For example, some wish to learn the guitar, or music, but they cannot afford it.

“So whoever is passing by and would like to help fulfil the wish, can get in touch with us and we can put both benefactor and the child together,” said Low.

Even into the night, there were performances still taking place inside the mall and out, with mall-goers and art enthusiasts sitting on the interior steps watching the Mak Yong performance by Darinai Dance company.

Outside, artist Ng Chor Guan was thrilling passers-by with his mobile-phone orchestra.

Calling their band “Calico”, Yvonne Chong and her sister Sharon, together with friend Faz Aznam, said they had not really performed publicly, prior to participating in the festival’s “Buskstop Busking”, playing at a few bus-stops around the Bukit Bintang area.

“But it is a great experience, and you really get feedback and response from the public directly, not just through online comments,” said Faz.

“It would be great if Kakiseni did this festival again, but on a much larger scale,” Sharon laughed.

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