Who says Singapore kids have NO talent?
In the past TWO months, kids from Kids Performing (KP) have snagged prominent roles in an international award-winning musical, a 13-part Mandarin serial on Channel 8, a television program on Mediacorp Channel, Okto and features in the upcoming National Day Parade 2012 video directed by award-winning local celebrity Royston Tan.
Six-year-old Chloe Choo from Pop Stars snagged the coveted role as Molly, the youngest of nine orphans in the acclaimed Annie The Musical, in a fierce competition that saw 300 kids in Singapore auditioning for the prized roles.
Heidi Nerissa, 11, a Broadway Kid with Kids Performing, claimed the lead role as Jade Zee in “Rock Republic”, beating out 30 other kids to land this meaty role, playing one of four children with supernatural powers. The Channel 8 serial will air in September this year (Sundays, 9am).
Leong Su Yean who is with the Jazz Kids at KP, landed the lead role as a superhero named Lazer in MediaCorp OKTO’s “MY Super Secret HQ”, currently being telecast on Thursdays 8pm. The primary 5 student is also one of 29 kids from Kids Performing to be featured in the upcoming Royston Tan’s National Day Parade 2012 video to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
So what is the school’s secret?
When casting agencies approach the school, it is Managing Director Joanne Leow, the other half of this power duo who finds out what the casting Director is looking for and then shortlists the kids who are ready and suitable for the roles.
Kids who express an interest in auditioning for the roles will then be prepped by the school. Aside from preparing them with rehearsals for their song and dance choreography, Artistic Director of Kids Performing Kuo Po also empowers them with a pep talk to help them understand the audition process and techniques that will help them snag the roles.
“They must mind their ‘P’s – have personality, must practice and perform,” says Kuo Po, or Teacher KP as the students call her affectionately. But it is not just about the performance, Kuo Po ensures that the kids understand what is required of them in this industry. “Don’t waste the time of the panel or the casting director. Don’t be temperamental in your audition. It makes a world of a difference for kids who go in with some professionalism,” she says.
“We are grooming personalities, not stars!”
But for Kuo Po and Joanne, the successful landing of roles by their students is a bonus. What drives them is the development of a child’s personality and the soft skills the child acquired in the process – the ability to talk and have conversations, being confident, have eye contact, be professional, able to handle rejections and move forward; stand out there to make presentations; believing in oneself, and managing the nerves. These are the qualities they and their team of trainers strive to impress upon their young students.
What is uniquely Kids Performing is its performance training – it is not just a dance school or a speech and drama school. “We are here to develop the child to be a multi-faceted performer who can sing, act and dance; and has the personality to go with it,” said Kuo Po adding “[Kids Performing] philosophy is very clearcut; the more you perform, the better you get.”
With that in mind, Kids Performing has a stage at their PopStars Cafe for the sole purpose of giving their students opportunities to perform at the end of each term (10 weeks). Parents get to see their kids perform and the kids learn what to do or not do at their next performance. Also, when they go for audition, it’s not that much of a difference for them.
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So, how do the parents feel about KP’s philosophy?
Stephanie Yu said that her daughter Heidi is by nature a happy-go-lucky person who doesn’t stress much. But since attending Kids Performing, she noticed that Heidi is more confident and passionate about her interest in performance arts.
“It has opened a lot of doors in term of performing arts,” she adds referring to Heidi’s performance in Narnia last year, her participation at the President Star Charity and the opportunity to sing with Wee Cho Yaw’s daughter earlier this year. She also believe that Heidi’s casting in “Rock Republic” led to her being chosen to represent her school in the Shakespeare by the Park monologue to celebrate CHIJ’s 350th anniversary. These accolades will contribute to her resume when she applies to the highly competitive School of the Arts (SOTA) next year.
Su Yean’s father, Leong Chun Siu is equally satisfied with the progress that his son and daughter, Su Nin, 9, made with Kids Performing. And it wasn’t just the performances that both kids participated in. “My kids were very shy to start with, but after four years with Kids Performing, they are 180 degrees from where they started,” he observed. “They have the confidence to go up on stage and speak in front of an audience,” he laughs adding that it was something that he still can’t do himself.
What matters more is also Kids Performing’s emphasis on the professional qualities of its performances and that they value the kids’ participation over performance.
And if the Director and Choreographer of Annie The Musical, Roger Hannah’s revelation is anything to go by, the duo at Kids Performing may be on to something.
Check out what Roger Hannah said regarding the audition: