Opening ceremony of Asean Para Games set to wow
15-year-old will be under the spotlight at the Para Games opening ceremony
She glided effortlessly across the stage at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, swirling her rainbow-hued implement to music, surrounded by a blur of bright lights and fellow performers from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, moving in synchronised chaos around her.
Luo Mang was a picture of grace and composure in the opening act of the Asean Para Games opening ceremony preview yesterday.
She may be 15, but 90 minutes before she enthralled the audience with her performance, Luo Mang, who has moderate autism, was a picture of calm, fiddling with her mum's iPhone while her parent fielded questions from the media.
"One of her biggest plus points is that she doesn't get stage fright, even though this is her biggest performance yet," said mum, Dr Xu Ze Ying, who practises traditional Chinese medicine.
The Eden School student has been learning dance since she was seven, and won two awards at the Hong Kong Autistic Talent Gala Competition last year.
Luo Mang is one of several performers with physical or mental disabilities who will take centre stage in the opening ceremony of the 8th Asean Para Games on Thursday, with organisers deliberately melding them with able-bodied performers and creative staff.
"We are not the SEA (South-east Asia) Games, and we are proud to be different," said visual and communications director, Dr Tan Kai Syng, who has a doctorate in fine arts and is based in the United Kingdom.
While some performances were choreographed before performers auditioned and were selected to fit into the various segments, the creative team, helmed by Philip Tan, worked with various organisations for people with special needs to find out about the performers' abilities before coming up with the performance.
The team have taken pains to ensure inclusiveness, with hand-signers joining emcees Oon Shu An and Terence Tay throughout the ceremony.
Singapore will host the regional Para Games for the first time from Thursday to Dec 9 and it will feature around 3,000 athletes and officials involved in 15 sports. For the first time, the opening ceremony will not only be broadcast "live" on television, but also streamed online via the Games' YouTube channel.
Said Tan: "We have been working overnight to get everything ready by the actual day (on Thursday) even though we are shorthanded...
"We are prepared to bring the Asean Para Games to the next level."
Dr Tan added that the formal aspects of the ceremony, such as the introduction of the 10 contingents, have been melded into performances to ensure that there is never a "down moment" during any of the five segments of the show.
One of her biggest plus points is that she doesn’t get stage fright, even though this is her biggest performance yet.
— Dr Xu Ze Ying on her daughter Luo Mang