Maya Dance Theatre presents a collection of new dance works by up and coming Singapore-based and International choreographers Release 5.0.
On the evening of Saturday 6th March, I found myself in a refreshingly packed venue ready to watch Release 5.0. As I watched the audience take their seats I couldn’t help noticing the many cross sections of society. Who says contemporary is an elitist art form? The audience included youth groups, traditional and contemporary dance enthusiasts, educators and senior citizens.
Release 5.0 stage 1
Is a remarkable collection of dance works that appeal to contemporary dance specialists like myself as much as appealing, entertaining and challenging young minds in the field of contemporary dance with Release 5.0.
Starting the evening Phitthaya Phaefuang and Sharin Johry present HITAM PUTIH. Inspired from the Hindu Epic Ramayana this choreography explores the fight between two brothers Surgiva and Vali, or two halves of the same warrior.
The choreographic decisions in this duet are visually simple; with one dancer facing the audience while the other explores elongated movement with his back and hands. The development of gestural work is prominent throughout the entire piece and portrays the idea of conflict between these two halves of the same warrior. However, I believe that the exploration of the music didn’t quite add to what the choreography intended to show and instead it hid the idea of conflict. Beautifully danced by Phitthaya Phaefuang (Sun) and Agus Hendra the facial expressions reveal the rivalry between these two warriors perhaps more then it is translated into the movement.
Moving forwards to Eva Tey DATUM – a crowd pleaser in Release 5.0
I was delighted to finally see the end results of this long process in which Eva embarked months ago. As a mentor for this particular piece my main concern was and still is, to allow Eva to see her work objectively and whether she is performing her message and findings. Perhaps I may be biased in reviewing a piece that I have witnessed evolving through the last couple of weeks, but the fact of the matter is DATUM engages the audience from the very beginning, the dancers are also actors and their voice work contributes to a clear understanding of the subject. I personally always prefer work that allows me to imagine something else but Eva has managed to combine clarity and imagination in a short dance piece. Having an idea and witnessing the process through which the latter gets corrupted and changed.
SOMEONE IN WHITE choreographed and performed by Phitthaya Phaefuang speaks of identity and where one comes from. A subject close to the heart of so many artists that travel with their work and adapt to new countries and even nationalities as they grow. This solo piece combines Thai music and western religious tunes. Use of repetition throughout the work is key for the development of the dance material, aspects of one’s personality are revealed in little details such as in the gestural/hand work extended with artificial long fingernails. Spinning constantly at a low level close to the floor, Phitthaya Phaefuang makes his way cutting through space combining dance material that juxtaposes the ‘religious’ music. The piece doesn’t seem to resolve itself, however, that might be the intended message, if not the state in which Phitthaya Phaefuang is, and wishes to share with the audience.
Duality by Ni Wayan Sekariani and Sharin Johry is packed with humor, an interplay between two very different performers on stage – it is conversational as the two performers interchange text between them through the performance of coded dance material inspired by more traditional Asian dance forms.
The duet narrates a story, which I couldn’t quite understand; however, the dance material is super clear, accompanied by rhythmical footwork. The strengths of this choreography are in the actual exchange of ideas on stage, translated into movement, however, the aftermath falls short to reveal their states of mind. The music punctuates the rhythm at the start, and towards the second half is used to humour each dancer and the audience, it can feel at times as an easy solution to secure the engagement with the audience as well as each other.
I Have Nothing To Do With Explosions choreographed by Adam Lau and Caroline Chin brings a new perspective on choreography. Mentored by Susan Sentler the simplicity in this work is key to its delivery. The stage is quiet and the manipulation of a beautiful light sculpture really expands one’s understanding of movement. Crucial to this work is the laborious manipulation of the object on stage, the body matters less than the light effects – producing an endless line of movement in the dark space we are invited to step into the surreal, occasionally underscored by simple movement where the duet becomes one single organism while it divides itself into two very similar dancers. The inquiry is left with an open end, letting us imagine further into a black hole.
THE H DILEMMA, choreographed by Gil Kerer is a distinct collection of movement and voice work, organized in a trio growing from a quiet infantile song. In the first instance we are taken away by the detail of the material, somehow the sequence seems personal to the three distinct dancers, they work together as a community, they tease each other, pull and push but more importantly they feed off each other’s movement and together they move as a collective. It is somehow difficult to read this piece of choreography, however, the audience seemed very happy to sit back and take in the material that repeats itself through solos to an interconnected trio.
Release 5.0 STAGE 1 is an eclectic and versatile collection of dance works, accessible to all audiences it celebrates new talent and growing artists in pursuit of their own cultural and artistic agenda.
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