In recent weeks, we’ve spent our Sunday evenings at Pasir Ris Park and West Coast Park, as part of our 2013 resolution to picnic every weekend. Yesterday, we made our way to Gardens by the Bay to picnic and to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, a Chinese harvest festival.
And while the Garden featured spectacular lantern set pieces featuring themes from China and the Singapore Chinese diaspora (including NDP and Racial Harmony Day), it was the evening’s cultural performances by local performing arts groups that were most mesmerizing.
Apsaras Arts, Singapore’s premier professional performing company, presented a short program of Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Garba. Nayantara Kurma Parpia’s Kathak tarana featured complex footwork, intricate geometric shapes, and rapid turns. Sangeetha Venkitt Karthik and Mohanapriyan Thavarajah’s Bharatanatyam thillana showcased the dancers’ exemplary rhythm, timing, and synchronization skills.
A cynic may scoff at this sort of facile, photogenic brand of “multiculturalism”—of South Asian dance performed in the shadows of the Gardens’ “Supertrees” at dusk to celebrate a East Asian festival. But these magical and memorable “only in Singapore” moments continue to remind me that this city still surprises—still enchants—nearly four years on.