The highly-anticipated Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival 2018 returns this weekend! Malaysia’s biggest free-for-all arts festival, brought to you by Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac), will be held on Aug 18 and 19 with almost 350 arts activities and performances.
Held at the sprawling klpac, families with children can look forward to a host of activities and
events at this year’s YSDAF, themed ‘You, Me + The Arts‘.
Here’s a low down of what to expect:

1. Storytelling followed by hands-on workshop by Anak Rimba Books

Anak Rimba Books was created by Abyan Junus-Nishizawa and Farah Landemaine who both have a shared interest in promoting creative content which focuses on endangered animals in Asia. They are also self-published authors of their first book, Why Don’t I Look Like You. At YSDAF, Abyan and Farah will be conducting an art workshop with the lovely characters from Why Don’t I Look Like You. Participants (and their parents) will create a beautiful forest of Anak Rimba animals and friends. There will also be a storytelling session with Abyan and Farah as they tell the tale of Timo and Tapir.

2. Shadow puppet performance called Hoong Siamang Hooong by Hongjiejie Work Station

Watch a Temuan legend come to life in this educational shadow puppet performance. Audiences can see the projection being manipulated from the front as the story of a brave and spirited couple setting off on an adventurous journey unfold. They journey through dense rainforest in search of a legendary mountain with fruit-laden trees. Along the way, they stumble upon a gargantuan ape, the Guardian of the Mountain.
This delightful interplay of light and shadow by Hongjiejie Work Station based on the Kenneth See’s book “Temuan” brings out the amazing relationship between Man and Nature. With some 20 children’s plays under their belt, Hongjiejie Work Station won the Kwik Cut Best Children’s Theatre Award at the 11th ADA Drama Award.

3. Mini exhibition of traditional games followed by a traditional games workshop By GohKaki Childhood Museum

Forget computer and video games! Come over to GohKaki Childhood Museum’s booth and experience traditional games such as Lala Lila Tampong, One Two Tali Shom, Marbles, Seven Stones and so many more.
Learn to create your own toys such as a grasshopper from coconut leaves and a bamboo helicopter from ice cream sticks. GohKaki Childhood Museum’s mission is to preserve traditional games by raising public awareness and providing memorable experience through these events.

4. Performances by the Kuala Lumpur Children’s Choir

Formed in April 2003 by Malaysian choral conductor and pedagogue Susanna Saw, who remains its Artistic Director, The Kuala Lumpur Children’s Choir course is Malaysia’s first comprehensive choral singing programme for children aged between 6 –14 years. From its home at the Young Choral Academy (YCA), Malaysia’s first academy for the training of choirs and a leading hub for choral education, the primary philosophy of the course is to introduce choral singing as a healthy activity for children in a fun and relaxed environment based on the Kodaly Method of teaching. The choir has won many prizes and awards and made successful tours to Australia, Austria, China and Germany, among others. They have also collaborated and shared the stage with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), Kuala Lumpur City Opera (KLCO), and several other international ensembles.

5. Workshops all day long

From doodling, batik painting, macramé-making to drum and drama workshops, there’s something to do for kids of every age. One such workshop is by current facilitator for the preschool drama programme at The Actors Studio Academy. Kimmy Chew will run a basic drama programme catered to kids aged three to six years old. Students will learn basic theatre activities and games that will help them develop listening skills and focus. Another is hip hop dance, where routine will be based on current pop songs.

Art, art, art and more art!

The festival will feature a 500-strong contingent of Malaysian artistes and arts workers. Nowhere else will you be able to enjoy such a wide sampling of the arts at one go. This will include dance, music, comedy, theatre, visual arts and children’s theatre in the form of performances, hands-on workshops, forums, screenings and exhibits.
One unique exhibition would be Subject Y by Chin Wen Yen, the winner of YSDAF2018’s Pitch Start grant. A multi-sensory experience catered to the visually and hearing-impaired, Subject Y is an alternative to a traditional museum that plays up the different senses. There will also be six outdoor installations under the banner Deria by INTI Centre of Art and Design (ICAD). There will also be two exhibits focusing on the plight of the disabled called Barrier and Seeing Through My Songs.

For the Appreciation of Music and Film

Music fans must not miss an exciting line up of bands curated by Soundscape Records which comprises indie rock legends Bittersweet, experimental act Pastel Lite and Azmyl Yunor & Orkes Padu. Other highlights include a traditional segment called Sounds & Sights of Orang Ulu by The Tuyang Initiative, and award-winning films such as Redha and Adiwiraku. There will also be crowd favourites like AIIA, Drum Simfoni, Lee Wushu Arts Theatre, Balletbase and the Kwangtung Dance Company.
The biennial festival offers a highly engaging, interactive and feel-good festival experience for children through to adults. The festival finale weekend kickstarts with a contingent of drummers (only) on Saturday, 18 August. It will end at 8pm before turning over to Adam! The Musical Gala Performance at 8.30pm. On Sunday 19 August, the festival begins at 11am. Visit for details and updates!
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If you have ever watched the Mickey Mouse Club, you would know that a Mouseketeer is a seriously talented child. You only have to remember that many current actors and singers  – Oh hello Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake! – started their careers with the famous TV series.

Do you spot them? Some famous celebrities started their journey in showbiz as Disney Mouseketeers (Picture from Disney)

Malaysia’s own young talents

If your child is hooked on Malaysia’s very own Club Mickey Mouse, you would know the show also features seven youngsters who are bubbling with talent. The Malaysian edition of the popular series is led by Head Mouseketeer Charis Ow, 26, who is joined by Mouseketeers Dheena Menon Jayadeep (Dheena), 13, Erissa Puteri Hashim (Erissa), 14, Ahmad Faiz Najib (Faiz), 15, Gabriel Noel Pountney (Gabriel), 16, Nur Alianatsha Hanafi (Natasya), 14, and Mohd Wafiy Ilhan Johan (Wafiy), 15. It took a nationwide search with open auditions and talent agencies to find the right personalities for the group and show.

Makchic talks to Dheena, Erissa and Wafiy to find out how they started their musical careers, and how their parents encouraged their talents.

Dheena: I would sing and dance in front of my family and relatives

How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
I have always been passionate about music, and that’s thanks to my mom because while she was pregnant with me, she would let me listen to music! Music has always been a big part of my life. I’ve been taking music lessons since the age of 3. And I’m really grateful for that because now as a Mouseketeer on Club Mickey Mouse, we get to sing, dance and act, so it’s a dream come true for me!

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
My parents are my biggest supporters. When I was younger, they would take me to music classes. And we’ve had many memorable moments as a family singing together in the car while driving! And now that I have become a Mouseketeer, they are still my biggest fans and supporters. I would have not gotten to where I am if it wasn’t for them.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes. I can play a number of instruments such as piano, guitar and ukulele. Recently, I’ve also developed a new interest in drums.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, I do think that YouTube is a great platform for kids my age to learn music and dance skills! When I was auditioning my role for the Mouseketeer, I looked to YouTube for music and dance inspiration.

Any special memories of dance/music classes from when you were younger? Or any interesting memory that you can share?
Well, since young my parents would tell me that whenever there is a family gathering, whether it is Chinese New Year, Christmas or Deepavali, I would perform! I would bravely sing and dance in front of my family and relatives. My love for performing continued on till today and it became the reason why I decided to audition for Club Mickey Mouse. It gave me joy to perform in front of an audience and it also made me realise that I brought joy to the fans of the show. That makes me feel really happy.

Erissa: Playing the guitar is stress relief

How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
I was born into a family of entertainers. Both my mom and dad are in the entertainment industry. Mom is a singer, and Dad is a keyboardist and guitarist and naturally I was drawn to music and singing since I was 5 years old.

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
As entertainers, it was natural for my parents to encourage me to develop my musical skills. They would guide me on how to play musical instruments and we would sing along together as a family. Having their support has also motivated me to work harder in my role as a Mouseketeer.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes I do, I love playing the guitar because it is a form of stress relief and it helps me to improve my singing skills as I play and sing at the same time.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, I do think that YouTube is a great platform for kids my age to learn music and dance. Before my audition for Club Mickey Mouse, I researched different Disney songs and performance that I could learn from on YouTube, and that helped prepare me well for my audition.

Any special memories of dance/music classes from when you were younger? Or any interesting memory that you can share?
I have been performing since I was young, so I had many fond memories and experiences singing and dancing. However one of my most memorable experiences would be when I was participating in a singing competition on Astro Ceria Popstar, a singing contest that I participated with my fellow Mouseketeer Wafiy Ilhan. We were sent for training sessions before the filming took place. The experience taught me that you have to work hard and pursue your dreams with determination. And it was that same mentality that led me to audition for the role of a Mouseketeer, and I hope that my experience will inspire other kids as well.

Wafiy: Working hard for what you want

How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
My love for music started when I was introduced to different television music programs when I was 3.

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
My parents recognised my interest in music, and to cultivate it further they sent me to music classes for training. To encourage me further they took me to participate in different singing auditions. From then on, I have been participating in many auditions especially those by Astro. And through hard work, I have landed many roles, including being part of Malaysia’s first group of Mouseketeers and hosting Club Mickey Mouse on Disney Channel.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes. I love the guitar and keyboards and I can play both well.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, with YouTube being so accessible to everyone and there are so many fun programs, kids these days can pick up music and dance skills. Another fun way to learn music and dance is to visit our Youtube channel, where you can check out the Mouseketeers in action.

What does it take to be a Mouseketeer?
Being a Mouseketeer requires you to have talents in areas such as singing, acting, hosting and dancing. But above all, it requires you to be brave, responsible and be an exemplary role model that kids and fans can look to for inspiration. I also hope that my experience will inspire kids to never give up on their dreams, and to work hard for what you want.

If you’re a parent looking to inspire your musically-inclined child in a family-friendly way, tune in to Disney Channel, Astro Channel 615 every Friday, at 1.30pm, where you can see the Mouseketeers in action!

By Nellie Liang



Squeals of excitement would be the best way to describe the reaction from Alex when he discovered what was in the mysterious box of goodies that had arrived. We tore open the bubble wrap and packaging. He was delighted to see his name on the top of the box.

When we opened it, the first thing we saw was the ‘playbook’ with all the instructions of the activities in store. The booklet opens with a fun riddle. For each game, experiment or task, there is a quick visual reference about how long it takes to prep the task, how much adult involvement is required and how messy the activity will be. I definitely scanned through this quickly to decide which ones we could do there and then, and which ones we needed to save for later.


After that there are clear visuals of the materials needed and step-by-step guides on how to assemble the items. Because all of the props are separated in packages of various size, colour, label and material, it’s a bit like Christmas opening all these up!


The theme of Alex’s box was air, and so he learnt a lot about air pressure with a series of seemingly simple but nevertheless mind-blowing (eyes agog at the discovery!) experiments involving tubes, bottles, balloons, food colouring, plasticine and straws. His favourite prop by far was the dropper, because obviously, all scientists need to have their own droppers.


All in all?

Some activities took 20 minutes, while others were done in less than one. All in all, I would say there was a couple of hours’ worth of engagement here, with opportunities for expansion if you supplement this with Internet research, books or videos on the topic.

As a parent who isn’t very DIY when it comes to hands-on learning with my child, Atom & The Dot is a godsend, and I would’ve signed up immediately for a year’s subscription, except they don’t do international shipping at the moment.

For those of you in Malaysia, however, I highly recommend Atom & The Dot if you have a 5-8 year old that you want to give a present to, whether it’s your own child, or niece or for a birthday party you’re going to. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be a fun learning experience for everyone involved.

What we like:  They even have a recycling programme for all the bits and bobs in the boxes – that’s what you want to see in any company working in the 21st century economy.

What could be improved? One suggestion I would make to Atom & The Dot is to include references to find out more about the topic.


Rating: ★★★★★


By Uma.

Uma is a Malaysian mum who works in teacher education. She has a six-year-old son, Alex, and currently lives in Singapore. 


Pictures from Atom & The Dot