Covid-19: HOCC teams will perform to near-empty auditorium, competition to be live streamed instead

Hall 8 Dance Team
  • Dance teams will perform to an audience of four judges in lieu of NTU’s precautionary measures for Covid-19 
  • Hall 8’s Srethgie has pulled out, but other halls will still compete after months of preparation 
  • Catch the live stream here

By Yong Hui Ting 

Dance squads from Halls of Residence in NTU will take the stage today (March 4) in the Hall Olympiad Closing Ceremony (HOCC), NTU’s flagship dance competition. But unlike previous years, they will be performing to an almost-empty auditorium.  

NTU has limited the number of participants for student activities to 50 in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, it announced in a memo sent by the President’s Office. This means only 50 people per team, including dancers and crew members, will be allowed in the Nanyang Auditorium at a time.  

HOCC is traditionally one of the biggest events in NTU, drawing crowds of more than 1,700 people each year, but in line with NTU’s precautionary measures, audience members will now be only four judges.  

Supporters who wish to view the performances are left with the option of viewing it via live stream.

Participating teams were torn on whether they should continue competing.  

Hall 8’s Srethgie, NTU’s biggest hall dance team, announced on Feb 12 that it would be withdrawing all 59 of its members, as it was unwilling to compromise on the size of its performing team.  

Hall 8 Dance Team
A group photo of Srethgie, one of the dance troupes that have pulled out of this year’s HOCC. Photo courtesy of Srethgie.

Jaron Boey, vice-captain of Srethgie, told Soapbox: “Our stand is that everyone goes up on stage no matter what.” 

“One of the values we preach in Srethgie is that no one gets left behind. Even if it’s cutting down by one person, we would have all pulled out together,” said the third-year student. 

The dancers had started practising up to five times a week since last December, and the team has spent approximately $3,800 in total on costumes and props for the competition, said Boey. With Hall 8’s withdrawal from HOCC, most of these items will no longer be used for the official performance. 

Lim Li Ying, a Year 1 student from Srethgie , said: “When they broke the news, I felt lost. For a new dancer like myself, I looked forward to the day when I would go on stage and finish the item which I had practised really hard for.”  

“But the goal that I had been working towards was suddenly taken away from me, and I was just lost,” she said. 

Despite the changes, some halls still chose to continue with the competition as they had already started rehearsing for their performances.  

Megan Mah, Cultural Secretary of Hall 16, which emerged first in the HOCC competition last year, said: “We were unsure of what was going to happen, but we didn’t want our efforts to be wasted.” 

Hall 16’s dance team often practised until the wee hours of the morning from Monday to Friday in order to perfect their routine, said Mah. Several other hall dance teams also practised late into the night at various venues around campus.  

Lai Ling Liu, a Hall 10 dancer and second-year student, said: “It’s quite saddening that we don’t get audiences this year, but regardless, we’ll still give our best performance to the viewers watching our live stream.” 

Correction Notice: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Hall 8 Dance Team Srethgie and the mention of the 50-people limit imposed on school activities by NTU.

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