Soleil 2017: Orientation Part II

By Carman Chew (17A01D), Deborah Lee (17A01D)

Photos by Amelia Chong (17S07A) of Raffles Photographic Society

Although three and a half days of Orientation had already passed, the most anticipated event had yet to happen: O’Nite, the closing of Soleil 2017.

The night kicked off with a walk down memory lane through a throwback video montage, a collaborative effort between the school’s Audio Visual Unit and Photography club. The video had been painstakingly pieced together by members of the CCAs in an attempt to capture the ecstatic atmosphere from Orientation. Some OGlings had burst out in laughter as they spotted their friends in amusing poses, while others huddled together as they reminisced the memories.

Afterwards, although the sky was slowly dimming and turning cloudy, it did not stop the OGLs from performing the popular Sundance for the last time. Evidently, its infectious cheer had rubbed off on the OGlings right from the beginning of Orientation as some of them had pestered their OGLs to teach it to them, and a group even stood up to perform it together with the OGLs.

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The OGLs performing the ever so popular Sun Dance

Continuing with the theme of dance, it was then time for the top few pairs of OGlings to perform their Batch Dance on stage in front of their batchmates in a Dance Off. Admittedly, the mass learning sessions had been chaotic and full of confusion, yet the pairs on stage managed to execute the dance almost perfectly while maintaining a smile.

Offstage, awe was evident on the faces of the other OGlings as they watched the pairs go through the routine with ease, grace, and an appropriate amount of energy. Ultimately, the pair consisting of Julia Zarifah and David Or, from MR12 and MR09 respectively, emerged as champions with a smooth dance full of partner chemistry, a well-deserved win.

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Following the dance performances, it was time for the OGs to showcase the wide array of costumes prepared for the Fashion Show. This year, OGlings had truly put in much effort and resources into their elaborate costumes and creative props.

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BW04 Simpsons!

First off was BW01, with Pokemon’s Ash Ketchum hopping on stage with a huge cardboard donut and a chubby Snorlax slowly behind. But perhaps even more stunning was the next act from HH10, where one OGling acted as a snake charmer while two more dressed in hoodies slid onto stage, impressively keeping in character the entire time. Other notable OGs included MR01, who dressed up as Single Pringles, BW08, who created an entire cardboard ship just to reenact the signature Titanic scene, and MT01 whose OG had dressed up as an entire platter of sushi using a combination of red pillows and tape.

However, the champion title was eventually awarded to MR04 Sesame Street. Cherie Ng, Runway chairperson and one of the judges on the panel, praised their efforts, saying: “The Sesame Street team was really elaborate and you could see that they had put in a lot of effort. The use of the hoop was especially creative when it came to creating the costume for Oscar.”

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The Sesame Street Team (MR04) showing off their elaborate costumes

Then came the time that all the OGlings had been waiting for: the chance to show off the Batch and Legacy Dances that they had been practising hard at for the past few days. The hall was filled with excited buzzing as everyone got into formation for the Batch Dance. Although what followed could perhaps only be described as a mass of confusion as OGlings battled for space to carry out the moves, it was obvious from the bright laughter and smiles on everyone’s faces that they had enjoyed learning the dance and that there was a certain pride in being able to put up this final performance together.

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OGlings trying their best to keep up with the Batch Dance

As the music slipped into the opening of Mambo No. 5, the energy in the hall rose even higher and for the final mass dance of the night, everyone put in their best efforts and the enthusiasm was palpable in the air. At last, with the final striking beats and poses that signalled the end of the Legacy Dance, zealous applause and cheers filled the place, permeating the atmosphere with exhilaration.

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OGLs shimmying to the Legacy Dance

Up next was the song committee with pop songs from the past decade, featuring songs like “Cheap Thrills” by Sia, “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic, “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore and “We Own the Night” by The Wanted. The belting out of the popular hits combined with the nonstop jumping and flickering light changes, rendered the multi purpose hall nearly akin to an upbeat rave party.

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Song Comm stealing the spotlight with their melodic voices

But none of these could compare to the hype when the band started playing this year’s batch song, Time of Our Lives. OGlings formed circles, linked arms and poured their hearts out to the song for the final time that night. Despite how tired and sweaty they were from all the earlier enthusiasm, many OGlings still felt that they had “never been so connected with [their] batch”.

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OGlings huddling in circles as they sway to the music

After multiple tiring days of learning the Batch and Legacy Dances, the segment of O’Nite most anticipated by the OGlings was perhaps the performance put up by Dance Comm, since it meant that they could finally sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

The opening stage was dim, shrouding the hall in quiet anticipation as an omniscient voice rang out: “Friends are like fire. And we, are the dark in need of light.” Warm lights glowed into existence alongside the first beats of “Firestone” by Kygo, illuminating the nine dancers on stage that proceeded to deliver a fittingly emotive rendition that encapsulated the sentiments of the past few days.

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An emotional performance set to Kygo’s “Firestone”

Although the moves were neither fast-paced nor hugely attention-grabbing, they were no less powerful when executed in harmony with the mellow music, making for a pleasantly meaningful performance. After this particularly moving opening item, Dance Comm went on to further impress with a series of upbeat and strong routines to songs such as “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony, “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, “Sugar” by Maroon 5, “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood, and “Yeah 3x” by Chris Brown.

What seemed to drive the crowd wild, though, were the performances set to popular Korean-Pop songs: “Fireand “Blood Sweat & Tearsby BTS, and “Boombayah by Blackpink. As Kpop is known as a genre of music that also boasts impressive choreographies, Dance Comm certainly put tremendous amounts of effort into doing justice to the iconic dances. The “Fireperformance displayed powerful dance steps in time with the quick music, “Boombayah” exuded an immeasurable amount of confidence and energy, and “Blood Sweat & Tears” wowed with its clean execution of moves in close emulation of the original dance.

Audience reaction was enthusiastic to say the least, with delighted screaming and loud cheering and the occasional singing along. The late-night practices in school and early preparation that started from end-November had definitely paid off, as evident in the smooth progression and near flawlessness of the segment.

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The high energy drawn from the exciting dance segment was not immediately lost afterwards as the House Rallies followed. The House Captains, with paint-streaked faces and their house flags wrapped around their shoulders in a makeshift cape led the OGlings through the final House cheers of the night.

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After more cheers from CCAD, it was time for the house standings to be revealed. OGlings and OGLs alike waited in anticipation, curious to see if their efforts over the past four days had paid off. Coming in 5th place was HH, who had been applauded by their captain for their fighting spirit despite having come in ‘first from the back’. “We might not be winners, but we are definitely fighters!” declared Samantha Yom (17S07D), HH Captain.

This was followed by BB and MT, whose captains had daringly rallied the crowd even without the use of microphones, and they were thanked for their efforts in participating enthusiastically in war games over the past few days. As it came down to BW and MR, tensions were high — Could MR really beat the hot-favourite champions that had won the previous year? Following a tense drumroll that reverberated through the hall, BW was ultimately declared champion house for another year as the sea of yellow-clad OGlings exploded in loud cheering. At BW Captain Faith Teo’s (17S03K) passionate cry of “BW, WE ARE—”, the house replied in resounding unison, “CHAMPIONS!”  

As the sun began to set, the ceremony also came to a close, with the Institution Anthem being played, followed by a resounding Unite cheer to end it all off.

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The school punching their fists in the air as they shout with pride “RAFFLES”

This was promptly followed by a reminder from Ms Michelle Nah for OGlings to vacate the school by a certain time, and that the first day of school was the following morning. A mixture of groans and laughter erupted from OGlings, tightly huddled with their OGs after the exhaustingly sensational events of the day as they were dismissed.

As the writers watched the throngs of OGs disperse from the hall and on to their final OG gatherings and dinners, we couldn’t help but feel deeply wistful. The closing of O’Nite and ending of yet another year of Orientation served as a poignant reminder of the cyclical nature of JC life, that batches would come and go and every year would see new experiences and memories.

It was heartening to hear that overall, OGlings had enjoyed themselves thoroughly at Orientation, especially the JAE students that might have initially felt nervous being inducted into a batch of students that already had close circles of friends. As expressed by Jane See (BB04), “I initially thought it would be awkward because majority of the students were from the Raffles Programme, but it  turned out to be rather alright as everyone is very outgoing and my OGLs are super friendly and I made new friends!”

OGLs too, had their fair share of sentiments regarding Orientation and O’Nite. Said Dance Comm member Amanda Chan (17S03E) on her team, “I’m really glad to have met such a fun and passionate bunch and looking back, I’ve realised that we have come so far from our first rehearsal! Also, a BIG THANK YOU to our I/Cs—Cheryl, Ivan, and Bryan, for being so accommodating and planning out everything nicely for us. Y’all are truly the best!”

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OGLS of Soleil 2017!

Now that Orientation has ended, it is time for OGlings to focus on the new journey that lies ahead of them. When asked if she had any words for the new batch of Year 5s, CCAD Head Alicia Goh (17S03G) remarked, “I think Orientation is perhaps the highlight of your entire JC life, so I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and met new people and that you’ll keep your OG mates even after Orientation because that’s what makes it fun! Also, be excited for match support!”

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