Adele Goh opens the doors into her choreographic process for Babel with Frontier Danceland for SIDES 2017. Speaking of research, collaboration, experimentation and play. Adele Goh has been a full-time dancer with Frontier Danceland since 2013 and is an active choreographer with the company. ‘It’s hard for me to articulate what my particular style or influence is at the moment and that’s something I am keen to define a little more for myself.’
Adele Goh is a sharp and precise dancer, able to grab the audience’s attention from the beginning of the performance guiding everyone’s gaze through the dance – a skill unique to herself and a delightful experience for the public. Having followed Adele’s work as a performer as well as a choreographer I am keen to understand how she operates in the studio and precisely what drives Adele to make choreography.
What influences do you have in your creative process?
I believe the outcome of my work is highly influenced by the dancers in the studio. I feed off their energies, creativity, humour, personalities and their physical responses. Every work is quite different. Sometimes the music dictates the structure, at times it’s the space (I tend to like small intimate spaces), a prop or a lingering feeling that feeds my impulses to create.
Tell us about your creative process for this performance, specifically how did you develop the concept and movement material?
The concept for the work only became clearer to me in the second and third week of my residency. I was experimenting with several different ideas in the first week, setting lots of different movement tasks, creating material from my body, and just getting a feel of where I wanted to go with the things I eventually ended up not discarding. We watched videos of people playing Kabbadi (A contact sport which originates from India) and then playing lots of games ourselves. I also got the dancers to answer lots of questions about their identity, which ended up as a kind of reference point in the piece.
How do you describe your aesthetics? Are they directly related to the work Frontier has been doing or is this a personal venture of yours?
It’s a combination of both. It’s hard for me to articulate what my particular style or influence is at the moment and that’s something I am keen to define a little more for myself. I have been profoundly influenced by various people at different times over the years, particularly at Frontier. Ballet has always informed me and my sense of form. The Gaga and the Hofesh-inspired are definitely there. So is Flying Low. I’m very drawn to contact improvisation, fighting monkey and capoeira. I’ve also recently started doing popping. I like the idea that seemingly contradictory qualities can exist in the same moment- like fragility and athleticism. I love complexity and detail. I don’t like dancing that is too affected and feet that are not parallel when in a neutral position. I want to keep making this question a personal project of mine!
What are your plans for the future as a choreographer? Will you be splitting your time between performing and doing new work?
I can’t say at the moment. I think performing is still my priority for me and it is still the one I connect more deeply to between the two. Making work tends to take a lot out of me and consume me in an unhealthy way. I am still trying to figure out this whole balancing act. I will probably keep creating at some capacity, and the hope is that I can meet some awesome collaborators along the way, and maybe take the work beyond the shores of Singapore.
Lastly, what are the challenges that you came across while creating this work? What did you discover about your creative team and input into the work?
This will be the longest work I have created at Frontier so physically, mentally and emotionally, it’s been more demanding, not just for me but the dancers. As a choreographer, you learn that you have to manage that and create even when it is hard. I am usually also a big fan of props, but this time I made the conscious effort not to use any big props/sets to define the space, so it was a challenge in that sense to just use the pure bodies in space. I learnt that if and when you do set something in motion, and it works, the dancers can take it, use it, and surprise you. I’m dependent on each person involved in the work to bring their take on things as much as they are dependent on me. It’s humbling work.