Christina Chan, award-winning dancer, choreographer and former rehearsal director at Frontier Danceland (until last weekend) shares a coffee and some stories with Ezekiel Oliveira at Goodman Arts Centre, in an exit interview from the company that she nurtured for the last five years.
Ezekiel met Christina for the first time around two years ago, at the time he was teaching a dance class to the dancers in the company and they instantly connected through dance – discussing dance work, upcoming projects, and favorite choreographers. At the time, it seemed they were both looking to dance to infinity; unfortunately, the classes weren’t long enough.
Christina struggles to identify a favorite work in the large repertoire of performances developed in the last five years with Frontier Danceland ‘I will not mention any of my own works, even though I have choreographed as many works as the company has commissioned by foreign choreographers. ‘
Christina Chan confesses to being ‘ very happy to continue to receive support from National Arts Council on many of my future projects, it is comforting and good to know that they are really looking at the work you are proposing when deciding what to fund’.
Chan expresses herself exquisitely in dance works rooted in Gaga technique, and Frontier Danceland has commissioned works for the last few years from choreographers that keep extending the ongoing legacy and work of Ohad Naharin, specifically – Shahar Biniamini and Noa Zuk. ‘ I am definitely not finished with Gaga”.
Reflecting on the past, did Christina fulfill herself as an artist in the last 5 years?
‘Not like I first imagined, there are things I will never give up. If I was fulfilled I wouldn’t feel the need to be dancing till I am exhausted these days, doing a show only 5 times (excluding my own choreographic work) isn’t enough – working with a different choreographer ever 6 months only to perform 2 or 3 times isn’t enough.’
‘Firstly, I wanted to dance to extreme pleasure, which I have very often got whilst performing works by Noa and Sita Ostheimer, nonetheless sometimes I go on stage and at the end of the performance I feel that I need to do it all over again, sometimes I have to wait too long to perform, I feel like a racehorse who is allowed to go as far as 50 meters, then going back into the stable and this is an unbearable feeling.’
Frontier Danceland has around 3 different seasons throughout the year, allowing the dancers to perform on stage approximately ten times. The latter is a problem for the dancers. In discussions with other artists, everyone seems to need a lot more performance time to share the hard work that happens in the studio. On this note, we asked Christina weather she choreographed so many works for the company ( around ten different pieces) because she needed more performance time?
‘ I am lucky, blessed and grateful that the audiences like my work and therefore I keep on choreographing, sharing this pleasure with the communities is super important, sharing is ultimately the most important feeling for an artist, however, as a dancer, I have not shared enough. But contributing to cultural growth, I think I am ok on that score.’
Christina Chan has choreographed around ten dance pieces in five years; an extensive body of work, the majority of dance artists working in the industry wouldn’t have choreographed in such scale, however, she acknowledges that ‘A lot of the works were for the company’s development, more than my own. I wouldn’t have made some choices if Singapore weren’t my home; I intentionally made some decisions for the advancement of the company rather than my own artistic health.
Chan is excited about the rapid development of contemporary dance in Singapore and its many platforms ‘SIFA, DA:NS Festival and M1 Contact Festival. Dance is evolving at an alarming rate. T.H.E. is bringing exciting artists to work with the company filling that gap in the industry. So I think there is a good balance with the independent artists, Daniel K came home and I am excited to see more of his work. The programming is interesting now, and the natural ecology of dance can recycle companies at any minute, producing new work, new choreographers, and new performances.’
Singapore and Goodman Arts Centre houses a significant amount of dance companies, producing work all year around. The vision for these companies is fairly different and there is a significant investment from both National Arts Council and audiences on the current and future works, however, one can’t stop wondering why aren’t the companies cross collaborating, sharing resources as well as audiences and working together for a more united and dynamic community.
‘I think it’s sad, it’s tough because ultimately we should unite to share our work across companies to the audiences at large. It is a constant mystery since I came back home to Singapore; I think you and I are the only two people that have gotten around a bit. I worked with Singapore Dance Theatre for a few years, and Janek is very open to working together, he is very generous.
Companies with major grants should be responsible to the country and community – offering opportunities for artists to cross over, but ego comes into the equation stopping that process, unfortunately.’
Christina Chan is currently preparing for a series of performances and will continue her creative partnership with Aymeric Bichon throughout the year.
Don’t miss the performances of this exciting dance partnership at:
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay on the 13th and 14th of October – DA:NS Festival, Esplanade Recital Studio.
Singapore Dance Theater – 28th to the 30th of October, Esplanade Theatre Studio.
New Zealand School of Dance, Wellington, and Chop Shop Festival in Seattle U.S.A – 3rd to 18th of September and February 2017.
Stephanie Lake, Australia, Melbourne – November 2016 with performances in Singapore December the 5th.
TUUMATU Festival Ghana, West Africa – December 2016. For further information about Christina Chan future projects please click here.